Experience trumps content

Jon Goldman writes a post at Mashable about why social experience trumps content on the web. It has nothing to do with healthcare but it started me thinking about experience vs content; specifically why patients choose a lesser-quality provider for a healthcare service. The Cleveland Clinic isn’t the only hospital in Cleveland.

That’s an extreme example. Not every city has such a prominent, nationally recognized healthcare provider. But decisions like the ones Clevelanders make when they choose a non-Cleveland Clinic facility play out all around the country. Patients routinely choose the number two or three best provider for their healthcare needs.

Why?

Maybe they don’t have a choice; their insurance plan decides for them. Or a patient leaves the decision to a doctor. Or: patients choose experience over content.

The experience of the visit (location of the facility, decor, pleasantness of support staff and physicians, familiarity, etc.) trumps content (published quality metrics and rankings).

Goldman writes, “user experience becomes the key to locking onto and growing a real, loyal audience.” That’s the case in healthcare, too.

While it is true that more patients are beginning to care about finding the best provider as defined by published, comparable data, the reality is that the overall dominating quality metric in the mind of most patients is how the experience makes them feel. 

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