Patient engagement lessons from Procter & Gamble

Hospitals that seek inspiration for how to increase patient-centered care should look to consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, according to a Forbes column.

Sachin Jain, M.D., chief medical officer of CareMore Health System, a health plan and care delivery system subsidiary of Anthem, writes in the piece that the CEO of Procter & Gamble felt that company leaders were were far too insulated from customers. To remedy this, he had executives meet directly with consumers to get their direct feedback on the company's products. And he learned what consumers wanted and the business became more successful.

Jain said he had similar concerns when he became the CMO at CareMore. He felt as if the system's leaders were in an ivory tower that kept them from hearing the voices of their 100,000 consumers. In response, Jain followed Procter & Gamble's lead and began to have dinner meetings with patients, defying conventional wisdom that warns against socializing with patients for fear of compromising the provider-patient relationship.

But the casual, non-care setting allowed patients to freely explain what the organization could do better, he said. 

Far too often, Jain writes, healthcare leaders try to put themselves in patients' shoes by asking themselves what they, the leaders, would do in such a situation, rather than listening to the patients' own voices.

Since Jain began the meetings, he says the system has gained valuable insights, such as learning patients wanted better-organized outreach efforts and more reliable transportation services. The number-one lesson, however, is that regardless of experience or expertise, leaders should never make assumptions without consulting patients.

Similar lessons about centering the patient experience can be gleaned from other successful companies, from Disney to Lowe's and Starbucks, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the column