Today, patients are behaving more like consumers.

Patients are driving more healthcare choices.  They have access to medical information.  They can initiate diagnostic and therapeutic interventions without physicians.  They have more financial skin in the game, and there is greater transparency regarding pricing.

Patients increasingly drive referrals, either directly or indirectly.  They choose where and when they seek medical services in much the same way you book air travel: on the basis of cost and convenience and the overall experience.

When patients behave more like consumers, you optimize your chances of success by embracing sound business practices.

Successful businesses understand that what they think is not nearly as important as what their customers think.

When business want to increase prices, they deliver more value.

What do these rules mean for you?

You want to ask 3 questions:

Who is your customer?

What does your customer value?

Is the customer willing to exchange money for the products and services you offer?

Who is your customer?  It depends:

If you think of the customer as the person or organization who writes you a check, the insurance company is your functional buyer.  Your patients who are responsible for ever increasing co-pays and deductibles are also customers.

If you think of the customer as the person or organization who makes purchasing choices, your referral sources are your customers.  When patients arrive at your office, they have usually made a decision to get their medical care from you.

If you think of the customer as the person who makes a transformation as a result if your medical care, the patient is your customer.

If you want to be successful, you must focus on the things that your customers value.  Each stakeholder wants very different things.

The insurance company rewards physicians who help them maximize profits.  That’s what they value.

Referring physicians value quality care with optimal medical outcomes.

Patients want something more than medical outcome; they want an experience that helps them achieve a personal outcome.

What if you ran your practice with the mindset that your patients are your true customers?  That would mean that delivering care patients truly – patient centered care – is the key to success.