Moody’s: Increase health system credit by listening to patients more

Hospitals can boost their credit strength by paying more attention to the patient as consumer, according to a new report by Moody’s Investor Service.

“Not-for-profit hospitals that excel at providing convenient care, high-quality customer service, and demonstrated value will gain patient loyalty, improve market share and boost credit strength,” the authors stated.

Among the authors is  associate managing director Lisa Goldstein, who is scheduled to speak about strategic market shifts are affecting hospital credit ratings during the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s 2015 National Institute, or ANI, in Orlando, Florida next week.

Hospital strategy is increasingly shaped by patients seeking value and convenience, according to Moody’s.

As consumers shoulder a greater share of healthcare costs, they are becoming more discerning. They want physical convenience and proximity.

Hospitals are answering with satellite clinics, but face competition from for-profit retail clinics and walk-in urgent care centers.

Online accessibility has emerged as a key component in consumer demand for accessibility and convenience.

Many hospitals have built a virtual presence with aggressive information technology spending, according to Moody’s.

The successful implementation of user-friendly, cost-effective technology is has positive effect on credit ratings, Moody’s said. Additionally, hospitals are devoting more resources to improving the customer experience.

This is seen in the rise in the number of hospitals hiring a chief experience officer, a person dedicated to improving the patient experience.

Hospitals are measuring patient satisfaction via surveys and outreach.

“A positive patient experience can generate new business through targeted recruitment and marketing initiatives, or just simple word of mouth,” said report author, Kimberly Tuby, vice president and senior credit officer for Moody’s.