JOURNEY INTO THE HAZY AND BLURRED WORLD OF EYE PATIENTS
Lasik and Cataract are emerging as important domains for an eye hospital. Advancement in laser vision technology has reduced risks and increased open-ness amongst consumers in opting for it. With life expectancy on an uptrend, age related eye diseases like Cataract are also going up. Hence, one of our healthcare clients serving patients in this specific segment wanted to better understand the consumer and map out actionable ways to improve the patient experience at the hospital.
To understand the emotional mind map of the patient (feelings, emotions, concerns etc) at various stages of Cataract and Lasik surgery.
In depth interviews with client-provided database of Cataract and Lasik patients segmented by the recency of surgery.
Lasik is a solution explored at and opted by the younger, adventurous and experimentative group, primarily for cosmetic reasons. ‘Look good’ is the undisputed key motivator, despite sundry other reasons cited.
At the outset, many are ‘aware’ of Lasik but not of what all it entails. Hence at the first level, once strong pull from friends is established in the mind, detailed digging from various sources starts. But as the digging gets deeper, at one level some questions are resolved but at another level, more questions arise and THE VERY NECESSITY/NEED for treatment is debated internally. Also, lack of clear explanation from centers/hospitals approached (on procedure and pricing) further adds to their dilemma.
Hence role of counselor at hospital is HUGE. He clarifies doubts, helps in boosting confidence and comfort with the decision and alleviates any residual fears.
Detailed search on the doctor helps in the final choice and he is clearly the hero, the most potent puller in the final decision! Family plays an important role in providing emotional support by standing by them in the decision and also many a times in financially supporting it (Lasik is definitely not for the tight-fisted or those belonging to a modest background).
Diagnosis of cataract is either at regular eye exam or at planned consultation. However, nothing prepares them enough. Though high awareness of the disease and its ‘safe and assured treatment’ makes the news palatable, it still takes time to digest and accept that a surgery is imminent. From the time the disease is detected, the C word totally dominates their life.
Most of cataract patients are the elderly. Overall their dependence on family (spouse and kids) in general is high. Specific to this situation, their dependence transcends physical dependence to include emotional support as well. Many factors play a role in decision making. Price of treatment (though not so openly stated) is VERY IMPORTANT. Location of hospital also figures as an important consideration since the entire process involves multiple visits to the hospital.
After rigorous search, WOM and advice from friends and family, final decision on hospital is made. It is a collective decision (by immediate family). The hero here too, is clearly the doctor, and his success history plays a big role in winning confidence. Half the battle is won if mind perceives itself in ‘best possible hands’. On the day of the surgery, anxiety peaks. Not only the patient but the family is tensed. Though they have been told innumerable times it is a fairly ‘safe’ surgery, a surgery is still a surgery. Anything can go wrong!
While some attempt on this front is already being done, the specific scope areas were highlighted to improve empathy, warmth and care that can be provided by the doctor and the attendant – infact the entire set up.
Concrete issues and remedial steps delivered by the research were fruitful for the client in devising action plan for improvements in the areas of lagging expectation-delivery.