Hospitals will get paid more if they make their patients happy. You read that correctly. For the first time ever, hospital reimbursement from the government will be based in part on how satisfied patients are with their care. The Wall Street Journal covered this earlier this week, and it's regulation already in place.

Why is this important and what does it mean for you? First of all, it's a long time coming. The U.S. health care industry is broken and everyone knows it. Not only do health care costs represent 18% of GDP, but many hospitals and providers have long operated on the premise that patients' opinions of services don't really matter--that patients will blindly go where the doctor tells them, without even knowing the costs of procedures. Customer service not required. All that was necessary was a good clinical result.

But health care organizations have come to realize that patient experience can mean even more than the clinical result, and includes every touchpoint during care.

I'd love to believe that hospitals and health care providers are improving their customer service because it is the right thing to do. But the reality is they're doing it because the government is hitting them in the pocketbook.  Hospitals run at an average of 2% operating margins, and over the next five years, a full 7% of a hospital's Medicare reimbursement will now be at risk because of quality, satisfaction, and value of service--not on the quantity of procedures they do. The scramble for survival has begun.

We're about to see a sea change in the industry and that's a good thing. Hospitals are now thinking about how to improve the customer experience. Remember, this is of course in an industry in which no one wants to be a customer. This trend has certainly helped my business. At The Beryl Companies we focus exclusively on improving the patient experience outside of the four walls of the hospital. But hospitals are very new to these types of initiatives, and they need all the help they can get.

There are plenty of companies out there who help hospitals measure satisfaction. But the industry needs certainly needs more innovative companies with tools, technology, and services that can improve the patient experience from the time people enter the health care system to long after they leave. With much of the health care system in the Dark Ages when it comes to technology, the entrepreneur with a next-generation app for improving a service or process will have the market and industry well in hand. We need new ideas, and we need them now.

What an incredible, industry-redefining opportunity to be a part of. People will always need care and we will always look for ways to offer them more efficient and improved service. And because of the nature of being human, the health care industry always needs improvements, regardless of larger economic issues. Hospitals are realizing that their core business is not only clinical results, but the overall quality of patient care, and they are increasingly looking to outside experts to help with everything from IT and housekeeping to food service and patient communications. And trust me, they're very loyal clients.

So entrepreneur, jump in. The opportunities are endless. And realize that your contribution to the economy might make the world a little healthier and patients a little happier.