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Are patients “customers”?

There’s a growing movement in medicine to start thinking of patients as customers and to develop a customer satisfaction mentality in medical practices and hospitals. William Maples, M.D., Executive Director and Chief Experience Officer for The Institute for Healthcare Excellence, gives us his input on the advantages and disadvantages of this shift in mindset.

Thinking of patients as customers enables a shift to true patient-centered care where physicians and clinical teams define and execute care plans to restore health with their patients. Having a customer mindset will create an environment where we truly serve patients and meet their total needs. This includes not only medical/diagnostic but also spiritual and cultural needs. This will allow patients to buy-in to their treatment plans and improves compliance with the overall care plan.


This also leads to not only improved health, due to increased compliance, and but also eliminates needless waste from care plans that the patient doesn’t buy into. Engaging patients as partners also provides another critical set of eyes and ears, which will enhance the overall safety of care. The financial benefits are also significant and a result of increased patient loyalty and trust.

The doctor-patient relationship extends much deeper than a customer relationship, as it centers on restoring health and life. When patients come in for care they’re often in times of great need and vulnerability. The relationship between doctors and patients has a more sacred meaning and requires deep kindness, compassion, trust, and empathy. Although customers can be well served, the key elements of kindness, compassion, trust, and empathy are not essential for all customer relationships.

The customer mindset does not pollute the doctor-patient relationship, as long as they remember that the doctor-patient relationship is enveloped by kindness compassion, trust, and empathy.

Learn more about the work that Dr. Maples conducts here.

How to achieve patient-centered care


The aim of adopting electronic health records (EHR) systems, patient portals, mobile apps, wearable devices, even 3-D printing, is to make healthcare more efficient, but are they?  A study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that emergency physicians spent 43 percent of their time entering data and only 28 percent of their time talking to patients. Pair with that, during a typical 10-hour shift, physicians click a mouse nearly 4,000 times.

William Maples, M.D., Executive Director of The Institute for Healthcare Excellence, believes there is still a deeper transformation that needs to happen, and it’s not just adopting new technology. “Technology should be a tool to facilitate the shift from patient-serving care to patient-centered care. Technology cannot and should not take the place of good physician communication. The best digital connections in the world will fail without personal connections.”

Would your organization benefit from learning more about any of these?

  1. Trends in connected healthcare
  2. How hospitals and health systems can effectively use technology and maintain superior communication
  3. How patient and physician engagement survey data can improve technology use
  4. The benefits of patient-centered healthcare (improved consumer satisfaction, increased revenue, innovation and efficiencies).

Dr. Maples also serves as Chief Medical Officer at Professional Research Consultants. He has helped improve patient and provider satisfaction scores—and medical outcomes—at leading hospitals and health systems across the country. To learn more about how to achieve compassionate connected healthcare, contact us.

Dr. Maples’ ‘Communication in Healthcare’ Curriculum Featured In Becker’s Hospital Review

Dr. William Maples Presents Hi Communication in Healthcare Curriculum AT PRC's Annual  Conference.

IHE executive director and CXO Maples’ ‘Communication in Healthcare’ Curriculum outlines successful patient experience strategy

Patient satisfaction has become the hottest phrase, and topic, in healthcare. Used as a key determinant of the quality of care, it is an important component of the pay-for-performance formula that calculates Medicare reimbursement under the Value-Based Purchasing program administered be The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Of course, patient satisfaction is quantified in patient surveys administered by healthcare research experts such as PRC.Continue Reading