CapitalOne has been running ads touting their banking cafes. They’re beautiful. Inviting. Convenient.

The narrator stands in front of an image of a bank looking like the concept drawing of a villain’s castle for some ’60’s Disney film. The explicit message is that an old, tired industry has failed to keep up with customer expectations and underdelivered on providing a good experience. CapitalOne, on the other hand, has it figured out. (Before you point out that CapitalOne didn’t create the cafe’s but got them when purchasing ING in 2012, I know. Not the point here.)

Here’s what hospitals and health systems should be learning from CapitalOne’s coffee-fueled remodel:

1. Think about consumers, not transactions

[bctt tweet=”Health systems should take a page from CapitalOne: They should think about consumers, not transactions #RiseOfTheConsumer” username=”healthfurther”]

Many of the reviews and articles of the CapitalOne cafes point out that you don’t have to be a cardholder to use them. Moreover, bank employees don’t walk around pushing CapitalOne products. From a Washington Business Journal article on the local shop:

“Employees are available if you’d like to talk interest rates or money market accounts, but they’re instructed not to bother you or try to sell them anything unless you bring up the topic.”

The focus is on allowing people to live and act on their own terms. Hospital visits are inherently uncomfortable, orders of magnitude more so than visiting a traditional bank. Which means the imperative for forward-thinking providers to understand their patients’ and patient families concerns, needs and desires. And then to build interactions around those findings. Ultimately this will mean redesigning many operations from the ground up, and we recognize it will also require changes in how the system as a whole operates to allow room for providers to make certain changes. Still, providers can train employees – from housekeeping all the way up to C-suite – to focus on the people in front of them. “Not selling products” doesn’t really apply to healthcare, so maybe it’s doing more to talk patients/families through what they can expect during their encounter. It’s taking pressure off of the consumers so they can engage in a more natural, comfortable way.

2. Act with the next generation in mind

Generational considerations are front and center. Business Insider said that CapitalOne’s cafes are built to combat Millennials’ “[abandonment of] the relationship-based, retail branch experience in favor of online banking.”

Compare that quote with this one from a 2018 post in Managed Healthcare Executive:

“With the proliferation of mobile devices and digital communication tools, patients—the customers of the insurance world—are expecting faster and more convenient services,” says Amy Young, healthcare marketing manager at Cisco, a global technology company based in San Jose, CA. “This is especially true in an environment where they are likely paying more out of pocket for healthcare than in the past. No doubt, this is a difficult transformation for the healthcare business that’s used to in-person interactions.”

The issue for both finance and healthcare is the shift away from in-person/relational interactions. Millennials and Gen Z simultaneously desire more tech-enabled personalization and more ideologically-driven products/services (think ethical sourcing of food, energy-neutral production, good working conditions, etc.) CapitalOne is serving both of these desires by giving cafe visitors the tools to manage their money digitally while also creating an emotionally and physically attractive space to spend time in. They’re also attaching themselves to trusted brands like Peet’s Coffee (more on that below).

Changing to accommodate shifting engagement patterns is critical in healthcare as younger patients consumers seek out alternate modes of care. Whether it’s telehealth options, standalone urgent care clinics, or a coffee shop that also happens to help them manage their student debt, Millennials and Gen Z want options that fit into their lives, not make it more complicated.

[bctt tweet=”Whether it’s telehealth options or a coffee shop that also happens to help them manage their student debt, #Millennials and Gen Z want options that fit into their lives, not make it more complicated. #RiseOfTheConsumer” username=”healthfurther”]

3. Know that the little things aren’t little

Look at these reviews of a CapitalOne Cafe in Glendale.

Read Glenn A.‘s review of Capital One Café on Yelp

Peet’s Coffee is THE selling point. Premium coffee at a good price (even better if you have a CapitalOne account). Let’s take this example both literally and metaphorically. Literally, hospital coffee is universally known as terrible. Sure, good coffee costs more, but look at the excitement in those reviews when people realized a bank was serving a cult classic. As brand reputation, patient/consumer loyalty and patient satisfaction contributes more towards the success of health systems, upping the quality of the coffee will matter. Literally. And then figuratively, it’s the little things – quality food and beverage, good wifi, pleasant aesthetics, and comfortable furniture. Which brings us to…

4. Invest in physical design

People are going to CapitalOne cafes to work.

Stop and re-read that: people are going to a bank instead of Starbucks to send emails and bang out their version of the Great American Novel. That’s weird. But it’s happening – first, because there’s good, inexpensive coffee and second, because they’re comfortable places to be. Again, healthcare innovators take note. A bank is now considered a comfortable place to hang out. If they can do it, why can’t we?

Ok, we get that it’s unlikely people will seek out hospital waiting rooms – no matter how well designed – as a place to get work done. But maximizing comfort and minimizing awkwardness that comes with the classic healthcare environment will increase satisfaction scores and lead to better reputation and higher patient loyalty. We’ll go out on a limb and speculate that more comfort will also boost engagement, potentially creating better patient/caregiver compliance (that’s our gut feeling, anyway).

Some health systems have already radically redesigned their physical space. Swedish Covenant Health, for example, created The Clark:

A pair of crystal chandeliers illuminate the open bar stocked with infused waters and teas rich in antioxidants. Around the room, trendy air-purifying fiddle-leaf fig plants draw your eye up to the recessed gold ceiling. [It] isn’t a chic new bistro. It’s Swedish Covenant Health’s Instagram-worthy outpatient clinic.

According to that Modern Healthcare article, interior design upgrades are “sweeping” healthcare. Maybe so, but we’d love to see it sweep a little faster.

Why do aesthetics matter? It’s not that expensive in the grand scheme of things and it can have outsized effects on business:

Amid fierce market competition and the shift from volume- to value-based care, design is now viewed as more of an experience.

The article also notes that design can help reduce employee turnover and costs associated with that problem.

5. Think about the end users

Yeah, this is basically the same as the first point. But it needs to be repeated. We’ll make it simple, leaving you with a quote from Mike Friedman, Market Manager at CapitalOne in the WBJ article linked above:

“It’s not how we all grew up thinking about the business, in terms of what is the ROI on this individual location or product,” he said. “We’re here to sit down and to see what the customers need, and then develop something that serves those needs.”

What do you think? Can – and should – healthcare look to CapitalOne as a model for the future of the clinic? Let us know in the comments below

[bctt tweet=”Can – and should – healthcare look to CapitalOne as a model for the future of the clinic? #RiseOfTheConsumer #PatientEngagement” username=”healthfurther”]

Featured image is from co-working space LiquidSpace’s website on the Capital One Cafe in South Shore, MA

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