I’m blogging from the NACCDO-PAN Conference (a meeting of cancer institute marketing, PR and development professionals) in a session by Amy Siegler, Managing Director at The Advisory Board Company, Inside the Mind of the Cancer Patient.
Some interesting insights on the decision making process amongst cancer patients and, in particular, the role of quality and outcomes data in that process.
Not surprisingly, cancer patients note a wide range of factors when assessing quality and those factors change at different stages in their care cycle.At some stages, expertise was of paramount importance while there are other stages (such as during daily radiation therapy) where convenience was a more prominent factor.Reflecting this, it’s not uncommon to see patients being seen in different facilities during diagnosis, treatment planning, surgery, chemo and radiation therapy.
While there is some indication of the use of quality data for evaluating facilities in their survey, the in‑depth interviews performed as part of the research undermined this somewhat.Patients are researching facilities and physicians online, but are not generally using outcomes data or other hard metrics in their assessment.
In reality, health consumers’ perceptions of quality are often driven more from the personal recommendations of trusted sources, often friends and acquaintances or clinical professionals.For example, one interviewee indicated that she had no reservations about her surgeon because she received the recommendation from her dentist.
There is a real patient empowerment movement leading to greater choice.For instance, younger patients are more likely to make independent choices.
More important, I see many of the advisory board’s recommendations reinforcing the importance of the patient experience:
- The challenges of onboarding in the care process are overwhelming to patients.Answering dozens of questions and having to collect the results of every test that they’ve ever had just to be considered for treatment by a physician is more than many newly diagnosed patients can handle.
- Nearly every patient has care coordination issues.Care managers are a great investment for improving the experience.
- Logistical challenges make the process harder.Patients prefer to stay close to home, poor parking is a barrier to care, inflexibility in scheduling deters patients.Amenities such as valet parking can make all of the difference to some patients.
- The wide range of amenities available in cancer centers is a great benefit, but many organizations are not doing an effective job in communicating those services appropriately.A huge stack of brochures is not the answer.This is one of the areas where an online presentation can be helpful, providing summary information with the ability to drill down for more detail.
The takeaway from the report is that communications and coordination are areas that provide the easiest opportunities to improve patient experience and therefore perceptions of your oncology offerings. This is a lesson that translates into other areas of our organizations as well.