High Performance Motivates GivingJuly 30, 2012 | By Wayne O'Neill
In a time when healthcare leaders are concerned with the impact of value-based purchasing initiatives on reimbursement in addition to concerns over the recovery of our nation’s economy, it may be easy to miss a prime opportunity in the big picture financially. The key question: How can your healthcare organization live up to its mission to provide excellent care to patients while making strategic financial investment decisions that build consistent service excellence in such a way that it will strengthen the bottom line?
Top on the list, healthcare organization leaders and trustees need to focus on running the best healthcare organization possible. Improving patient experiences and clinical quality, in turn maximize reimbursement and generate referrals, which ultimately strengthens the bottom line: performance-driven charitable giving. Despite the poor economy, charitable giving has remained strong. According to the Associate for Healthcare Philanthropy, in 2009 when unemployment nearly doubled and the recession was at its peak, healthcare organization giving only decreased 11 percent and rebounded in 2010 with an increase in donations by 8 percent with individual donors making up more than half of all contributions. This is particularly amazing since the U.S. Census Department reported that during this same time the median household income continued to decline, with a 2.3 percent drop between 2009 and 2010.
Traditional healthcare organization foundation fundraisers are useful for finding one-time donors, but do not usually identify the donors willing to make sizable contributions needed for long-term investment and planning. The challenge is to figure out what plan or program could yield major donors, create a high return on investment and align with the healthcare organization’s mission. The goal is to connect with philanthropists who are aligned with your mission, financially able to contribute and linked personally to your organization. Though healthcare organizations cannot affect donation ability, you can foster affinity and linkage. The potential philanthropists may not have stayed personally as patients in your healthcare organization, however they may become investors if they were impressed with consistency in excellent patient care and service during the healthcare organization stay of a close friend or family member who was a patient.
I recently had two difference hospital experiences with close family members. In one instance, the hospital staff dismissed our fears as unimportant, were not compassionate to our daughter’s pain, and rudely ignored us for several hours while they said they were busy but seemed to have plenty of time to chit-chat amongst themselves. In the other hospital experience, the excellent staff worked effectively to calm my mother’s fears and ease her pain, listened and responded to her concerns, checked frequently to attend to her needs while we waited for the doctor, and were friendly and compassionate. If you were with me in those two experiences, which hospital would you invest it?
According to the article “Performance-driven Giving” by a recent issue of Trustee magazine, “On average, one in five consumers made a charitable gift to their preferred hospital. When three specific aspects of service excellence were consistently present: excellent overall quality of care, hospital exceeded expectations and excellent staff, 48.4 percent of all consumers donated to the hospital.” Since the average customer assumes every healthcare organization can fix their problems and do not have the knowledge or experience to evaluate clinical quality, they differentiate one healthcare organization from its competitors by how they are treated from a service standpoint. Communication and friendliness of staff influenced a patient’s perception of their overall experience more than cleanliness and noise levels.
The financial future of healthcare organizations in the United States is largely dependent on your ability to achieve service excellence, especially since the government regulations tie Medicare reimbursements to patients’ experiences through HCAHPS. If you motivate leaders and empower your employees to provide excellent service, you have the potential of doubling your donor rolls. Moreover, you will live up to your mission to provide excellent care to patients and peace of mind to their loved ones.