Antonio Conte must work out how to overcome the loss of midfielder N’Golo Kante when Chelsea attempt to get their Premier League title defence back on track at Crystal Palace.
Conte’s side signed off for the international break with a disappointing home defeat by Manchester City that left the defending champions in fourth place, six points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders.
And the Blues suffered another blow last week when Kante picked up a hamstring injury while on duty with France. The midfielder limped out of the 1-0 victory against Bulgaria, and after returning to Stamford Bridge to be examined by club doctors, is now expected to be out for the rest of the month. Kante, 26, has been an ever-present during the league campaign so far.
While Conte will be confident his side can beat bottom club Palace, the former Leicester City man’s absence will be felt during the coming weeks when Chelsea will expect to make progress in the league and in back-to-back Champions League group meetings with Roma.
Conte is also likely to be without Alvaro Morata, who is suffering from a hamstring problem picked up in the City defeat. The forward’s injury is not as bad as first feared but he is not expected to be risked at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The loss of two influential figures will place pressure on Conte’s squad. The manager was believed to have been left frustrated by his club’s failure to bring in more players during the transfer window.
And his decision to initially replace Morata with Willian, a midfielder, against City raised doubts about the manager’s faith in Michy Batshuayi, his only other recognised senior striker.
Batshuayi, who scored a memorable winning goal in the Champions League visit to Atletico Madrid, should start against Palace but Conte has also spoken of the possibility of employing Eden Hazard as a false centre-forward.
Hazard made his first league start of the season against City and the Belgium forward warned it will take time for him to overcome the lingering effects of a long-term ankle injury.
“I missed football for three months and it’s not easy to come back after a big injury but I did,” Hazard said. “I worked out during the summer. I just want to play football. I will miss some games, I will play bad for some games. I just want to play football and try to bring the best of me.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson faces far more significant problems as his side attempt to halt a dismal start to the season that has left them without a point or a goal from the opening seven matches. Already Palace’s prospects look bleak, although they could be boosted by the return of winger Wilfried Zaha against Chelsea.
Zaha has been out with a knee injury and his absence has contributed to his team’s woeful lack of creativity up front. Hodgson, though, is convinced he can see signs of improvement.
“The messages being put across are being grasped by the players. We now have Chelsea and it doesn’t get any easier,” said the former England manager after the defeat by Manchester United before the international break.
“The break will be good to get more work done. I hope my enjoyment and passion for the game will spread over to the players. At the moment we’re like a boxer knocked down by superior fighters. We try to stay in there and not surrender.”
Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations
These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.
As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.
A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.
This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance.Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.
The evolving patient
Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.
The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.
Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.
As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.
The promise gap
In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.
So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.
As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.
Striking the balance
Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.
The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”
By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.
Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.
These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.
To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.
This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.