The Patience Experience with Alan Forbes | Exo on the Couch

April 12, 2021
8 min

Today on the couch we have Alan Forbes with us, who is the CEO of The Patient Experience group. Alan has already recently written a book called ‘The Patient Experience; The Future of the Healthcare Industry’. We’re really happy to have him on the couch today, so let’s get stuck in!


Alan has been working on the patient experience throughout his career, with both clients and partners. Originally he began from an operations and engineer perspective, by helping them to optimise and strategies the ways which they worked. The biggest impact Alan has found throughout his career has been in healthcare and medicine, where he feels he has the ability to positively improve the lives of more people at once. This is the reason Alan wrote his book back in 2019. It has been out now for nearly two years, and during the last twelve months interest in The Patient Experience Group has grown exponentially due to the global nature of desire to maintain patient experience as a core value.


Alan’s book covers a lot of ground with patient experience, but let’s go further into the digital patience experience. 


Many people have had to experience the digital services available from healthcare businesses and organisations, such as Telehealth. But this is by no means the only kind of digital experience within healthcare. 


Digital healthcare services are on the rise, with more improvements and developments being made. There are a lot of really interesting initiatives that organisations are looking to implement to improve patient experiences, such as contactless patient check ins in both clinics and hospitals. As well as back office systems that allow more seamless care of patient information and data when patients do interact with the organisation. 


What ties these digital products together is the strategy around implementation, whether this be improvements, redevelopments, brand new products are improving back end systems. These solutions are very important to get right, as the wrong decisions can have a really negative impact on patients when they are already feeling vulnerable, as well as the staff who have to use these digital products. 


Patient data needs to be handled with such a great amount of care. Obviously governing bodies wants to retain control of that data. But is this the right strategy?


Alan thinks this is a really interesting question that pops up time and time again. Large healthcare organisations from around the world, and thankfully not so many here in Australia and APAC, we have seen cyber security threats pop up all the time. Data privacy is vitally important to get right across every sector, it is however of particular importance within healthcare. We’re talking about our most personal information, what illnesses we have, our medications, our past ailments. This data is vitally important to care for, and every person has this kind of sensitive data that needs to be cared for by both independent clinics all the way through to government run health care providers and even private medical research labs. Ensuring there is adequate security and the digital implementation of these security measures is right is of course a huge priority for anyone in the healthcare industry.


Often healthcare organisations and providers reach out to Patience Experience with a need, such as a desire to improve the quality of their care or whether they have had a problem that really needs to be addressed. When engaging with such organisations it’s either proactive, pre emptive or there has been an incident or emergency that requires it. They may not fully understand that they fit into one of these categories, but we work to ensure that they fully understand the real root cause of why there has been a patient experience failure. This allows the Patient Experience Group to help them put the patient back into the centre of their operation, and secure the future of delivering consistently high quality care. These relationships with our clients can span from 3 months up to 3 years - and we really focus on supporting them to help people. 


The Patient Experience Group has found that many of these lapses in delivering a high quality experience step from rapid growth, which could mean long waiting times for patients. By tackling the problems with each part of patient experience we can support organisations to not only ensure they are remaining profitable, but they are delivering a better quality of care. We focus on the indicators that mean a patient is having a not so good experience, and really focus on how we can systematically improve each area sustainably over time. 


Having a ‘customer centric’ approach can be jarring for organisations who are more focused on reducing cost or increasing profit. Often this can be where conversations with clients may start. Healthcare organisations have a statement, or mandate that talks about finding the balance between patient care and the organisation. Many of our clients miss that if they can give their patients everything they need, and ensure that they are cared for and feel looked after, would that patient ever seek an alternative? This brings the question back around to would we really need to then focus on reducing cost and increasing profit when we have a stable customer base? This approach allows us to have reliability with our profitability and growth. Sometimes we do need to show how this works in the real world, and use past clients as examples, as well as case studies from other sectors about how fantastic CX can allow growth to take care of itself. Profitability then becomes a side effect of producing a great patient experience, of delivering really great care and looking after people. It all comes back to understanding out fundamental purpose of why organisations are in the business of healthcare in the first place.


You can purchase a copy of Alan’s book at https://thepatientexperiencebook.com.au/ and if you are a senior healthcare executive looking to do some transformation you can give us your information and a physical copy will be sent to you.


David really recommends reading this book, even if you’re not in the healthcare industry. It’s set out in very understandable terms and is a really great read. 


We wish the best to Alan, and we’re looking forward to having him on the couch again sometime in the future. 


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