Anthony Cirillo, a Philadelphia native, probably spends more time away from the Lake Norman area than he does at his home in Huntersville.
When he's not busy travelling to consult with hospital corporations and national long-term care communities, he is likely to be travelling to sing and entertain seniors, which also takes him around the country.
He's a self-described health care consultant who fell into a mission for seniors, but officially, he's the president of Fast Forward Consulting, a firm that provides health care consulting for issues ranging from patient experience to international health care.
People might assume that health care experts are in high demand with the reforms currently being debated, but Cirillo's work focuses on the consumer.
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"If people have a great experience, people will talk about it - that's a basic marketing philosophy, but I've applied it to an industry where it is often ignored by hospitals, physicians and care facilities," Cirillo said.
"My focus is about trying to fundamentally change the patient experience in hospitals, and the resident experience in long-term care communities," he said "In an industry where prices, services rendered, etc. are quantified, the patient experience is often overlooked."
This unique perspective of focusing on health care from the ground up has captured the attention of The Cleveland Clinic, Novant Healthcare, The American Healthcare Association and Dubai Healthcare City, all of whom have learned from Cirillo how to leverage positive patient experience into marketing for the hospitals.
For someone so entrenched in the health care system, both on the individual and systemic level, Cirillo's perspective of health care reform is ultimately focused on the big picture.
"Health care isn't really being reformed," he said. "What's changing is patient access to health care."
According to Cirillo, this is an important distinction to be made because of what lies ahead. He anticipates that a perfect storm is brewing whereby an increased number of patients accessing health care and a decreasing number of physicians will lead to poor quality of care and poor outcomes.
"We are on the brink of changes that will ultimately impact the patient experience - for the worst," said Cirillo.
For his clients whose hospitals and long-term care communities depend on positive patient experience for marketing, this could be disastrous.
"Just as in business, word of mouth drives the health care system as well," he said.
If reforms lead to increased demand for health care but a decrease in the supply of physicians to provide the health care, patients may find that they will end up travelling, regionally to find higher quality of care or better prices, Cirillo predicts.
The fact that health care providers will be set apart from one another based on the patient experience they have to offer is what motivates Cirillo to continue working with companies so they are able to see how important that experience is.
Cirillo sees evidence of this in his worldwide travels to places such as Thailand and Dubai, where medical tourism byAmericans to those locations is driven primarily by price but also by the patient experience.
"With medical tourism, we see examples of patients receiving service that is comparable to the service and attention you'd receive at a five-star hotel," said Cirillo.
His travels worldwide have influenced his perspectives of our own country's health care system, and he sees steady increases in the quality of care offered abroad.
"We have serious challenges ahead of us in this industry, and the end result could change the way that the entire health care industry conducts business with the consumer," he said.