Listening is the #1 thing consumers want from healthcare providers

Dan Prince | May 8, 2018 Dan Prince 05/08/18

The Beryl Institute and SMG’s healthcare division Catalyst Healthcare Research collaborated on an important research initiative to determine what the patient experience (PX) means to consumers. At the international 2018 Patient Experience Conference, Jason Wolf, president of The Beryl Institute, presented an overview of this study for the first time.

Our focus was to get to the heart of what matters to consumers and answer these 3 questions:

  • Is PX actually important to consumers?
  • How do consumers define PX?
  • What do consumers do as a result of a positive or negative experience?

By getting this information straight from the source, we were able to obtain a better understanding of what the patient experience really means to the most important person—the patient. Here are some key takeaways:

The patient experience matters a great deal to consumers—and they told us why

Out of the 2,000 global consumers we surveyed, 59% said the patient experience is “extremely important,” 32% said it was “very important,” and 8% said it was “somewhat important.” No one said it wasn’t important at all.

Simply put: The patient experience matters to all patients one way or another.


According to our study, consumers are seeking a positive patient experience because:

  • Their health + wellbeing are important to them
  • They want to know their physical needs are being taken seriously
  • They want/deserve to be treated with respect

Providing a superior patient experience goes beyond administering medical treatment—it’s about what the patient experiences as a whole. Every touchpoint, from beginning to end—the waiting room experience, initial exam, explanation of diagnosis and treatment, the billing process, and everything in between—matters to the patient and will directly impact their future behavior.

Patients list communication as the most important aspect of their experience

Based on both consumer and professional input, we developed and tested 29 attributes, each of which could be considered a potential element or component of the patient experience. We also provided an opportunity for each consumer to add any attribute that wasn’t already included in the list.

When it came to defining the most important elements of the patient experience, we found that items involving interactions with providers and staff were more important than those centered around the facility or processes. Obviously things like quality of care and a clean environment matter, but the connection the patient feels with their caregivers takes top priority. “Listening” turned out to be the most important among all 29 possible elements.

Patients said they wanted providers who:

  • Listen to them
  • Communicate clearly in a way they can understand
  • Treat them with courtesy + respect
  • Give them confidence in their abilities
  • Take their pain seriously

It’s all about ensuring a quality personal interaction and demonstrating to each patient that you are focused on creating a positive experience for them.

The patient experience has a huge impact on establishing consumer loyalty

Patients have high expectations for full transparency and productive dialogue with their provider, and if they aren’t satisfied with those interactions, they’ll seek care elsewhere. Not meeting consumers’ expectations will have a huge impact on their future behavior in two ways:

  1. They won’t be returning to your facility.
  2. They will inform others of their negative experience and not recommend your service.

Word-of-mouth is vital to the organization’s reputation and can have a major financial impact. Our studies show that 70% of patients who have a positive experience will tell another person. If they have a negative experience, that rises to 76%. And 73% of people who are pleased with their experience will return and continue to use the same doctor or organization.


While there is a slight variation in behavior across demographics—such as global and generational— there are far more similarities than differences in consumer perspectives on the patient experience. Healthcare providers don’t need to cater to one specific demographic, but should rather focus on how to enhance the experience for every patient across the board.

If you're not focused on the patient experience, you'll get left behind

We've entered a new era of expectations when it comes to patient care. As expected outcomes are becoming table stakes, the patient experience is emerging as the only opportunity to build a lasting competitive advantage. For more information on what’s driving this shift and what you can do to stay ahead, download our report.

Dan Prince | VP, Customer Engagement

Customer Experience Update