PX impacts decision-making for patients—and their friends + family

Dan Prince | Feb 19, 2019 Dan Prince 02/19/19

Bad news travels fast—especially in the healthcare industry. When it comes to people’s well-being, safety, and medical treatment, the bar is set high. There is no room for error and there are rarely second chances. If a patient feels their expectations weren’t met, it’s not only likely they will spread the word of their disappointment—many will look for another provider.

The Beryl Institute commissioned SMG to field an online survey to 2,000 patients across the U.S., U.K., Philippines, Canada, and Australia. Framed by an initial focus group study, the comprehensive research initiative surfaced critical insights by asking consumers directly about their experiences with healthcare providers. And with more than a third of respondents reporting a recent personal or secondhand account of a negative experience, it’s clear there’s a lot of runway for improvement.


We previously explored why healthcare organizations need to make the patient experience (PX) a priority and what matters most to patients. In our final post of this series, we’ll dive into how PX drives decision-making not only for patients—but for their family and friends, too.

Individual experiences can have long-term implications

Healthcare isn’t about a short-term fix—it’s about longevity and sustainable health. Every interaction a patient has with their provider matters, and a single bad experience can drive a loyal patient to look for better options. In fact, 98% of patients say the patient experience is significant in their healthcare decisions.


In today’s world, patients have a lot of options. The shift to a more consumer-centric healthcare environment has put consumers in the driver’s seat. Healthcare providers need to think more like successful retailers and restaurants, where everything centers on the consumer. This means delivering a great experience at every visit. It means giving people a reason to return, knowing how easy it is to lose them in a highly competitive market.

PX performance often dictates what happens next

Positive or negative, experiences spur patients to share their opinions with others, influence whether they return, and prompt them to leave feedback. In short: the stakes are high. In fact, 73% of patients who had a positive experience said they will continue to use the same doctor or organization. For those who had a negative experience, 37% said they will find a different doctor or organization and 43% said they will not go back to the same person or place.


And when it comes to spreading the word, patients reported being 6 ppts more likely to tell another person if they had a negative experience.


Like rumors and truth, reports of bad experiences tend to travel faster and farther than good ones—which makes it all the more important to put a priority on PX.

Patient experiences ripple out to impact decisions of others

One bad experience isn’t just putting you at risk of losing that patient’s loyalty—as in retail, word-of-mouth reaches and influences many others. Recommendations and referrals are still by far the top factors influencing healthcare decisions.


Finally, don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. When deciding where to go for elective procedures, today’s consumers consider not only word-of-mouth marketing but also online ratings and reviews. Every patient experience makes an impact on a provider’s reputation.

It’s a new age—and providers need a new approach

PX plays a key role in the decision-making process, and it deserves top billing in your organization’s strategy. While CAHPS surveys may provide part of the picture, winning organizations are adopting the mindset of retailers and treating PX like CX, putting end-to-end patient experience measurement programs in place to drive continuous improvement.

To learn more about adapting to the modern healthcare landscape, download the full report: 3 healthcare trends that will help you improve the patient experience

Dan Prince | VP, Customer Engagement

Customer Experience Update