by Mike Pietig
Saying the healthcare industry has changed in the last year is quite an understatement. The pandemic forced the industry to rapidly adapt to an almost-entirely virtual landscape. Beyond that, retail companies like Amazon and Walmart have entered the consumer health space, which will create even more disruption in the healthcare market in the coming months and years.
COVID-19 and the ‘retailization’ of healthcare have heavily impacted the expectations patients now have with their experiences. The rules and expectations consumers once had for more digitally advanced sectors like retail now apply to every sector, including healthcare.
A ‘patient experience economy’ has emerged, where a patient’s perception of their experience when it comes to building life-long loyalty. Healthcare providers offering the most impactful experiences to their patients today have prioritized three essential practices: consumer-driven care, smart health and digital experience transformation.
Patients today expect their experience with a provider to be experiential. To meet expectations, the services you provide must be convenient and accessible, while simultaneously feeling personalized and meaningful. A provider’s ability to deliver this kind of positive, high-value experience can make or break their ability to sustain patient engagement, compete for new patients, and maintain revenue.
To provide meaningful and impactful patient experiences, focus on these qualities:
- Experiential: How can you make patient care simple to navigate? How do you make sure that there's value in the navigation and quality in the overall experience so that the patient trusts their interests are the focal point of every interaction and experience and choose to return?
- Transparent: Consider a CVS Minute Clinic where every price is listed out very clearly for each procedure or interaction. How can you offer more transparency around the options and prices for services, procedures and medications we offer so that patients know exactly what they are signing-up for and feel more in control of their choices and the overall experience?
- Personalized: How can patients receive the experience and outcomes that they want? How can you uncover more about each patient’s preferences so that you can cater care, communications and channels to fit their individual needs and lifestyle?
- Self-Service: How can patient data and insights be used to better empower their needs, requests and decisions? How can patients access solutions like chatbots and data automation to simplify their interactions, channels and journeys? How can patients access on-demand information, or more easily take actions like making a payment or booking an appointment online?
- ‘Care Anywhere’: How can you offer care right here, right now? How can you provide online and virtual or at-home care options, so that patients can more easily fit their healthcare needs into their busy lives? How can you offer the same level of care to patients both in person and online?
- Shoppable: How can you make your services more accessible to offer provide more diversity and transparency in your service offerings? How can you learn from big players like Uber Eats, Amazon, Netflix and Delta to transform and market your business in a way that will resonate with consumers in 2021?
- Holistic: How can you offer “whole person care” versus more siloed or pin-pointed care? How can you engage with patients more holistically so that you can empower them to have more control over their own health?
Healthcare organizations that can diligently focus on the above qualities will be successful in delivering a patient-driven experience that goes from sick care to health care.
Measuring Patient Sentiment in the Face of COVID-19
An unprecedented amount of patient data has become available as a result of the pandemic and the virtual healthcare environment. In fact, a recent stat said the US healthcare system is producing one zettabyte of data annually, and that number is expected to double every year from here on out.
Follow these recommendations to convert data into actionable insights and strengthen the patient experience:
- Accessible: Ensure data is easily accessible to all patient care staff and service representatives so that patients receive a consistent experience, no matter the person or channel of interaction. Additionally, ensure patients have easy, on-demand access to relevant information, such as care history, upcoming appointments and bill pay.
- Comprehensive: Collect as much data you can on each patient to gain a 360-degree view of patients so you can better understand and act on these findings. Pull accessible data from within your systems and from outside of the medical facility (e.g. smart watches, health tracker or cell phone health data).
- Integrated: Leverage cloud healthcare solutions and data management solutions to pool all data into a singular place. This will eliminate instances where patient information is inaccurate or incomplete and make this information carry over constantly from interaction to interaction and channel to channel.
- Actionable: As mentioned earlier, AI is a great tool for automating the conversion of data into actionable insights. CRMs, journey mapping and marketing technologies are also very useful for acting on data to deliver personalized, relevant communications, interactions and cross-channel experiences to all patients.
- Protected: Ensure the right protection practices and solutions are in place to remain in compliance, protect against fraud and build consumer trust.
Compiling and understanding patient data in the ways identified above will empower your healthcare organization to consistently compete with growing competitors, build patient loyalty and make smarter decisions.
Digital Experience Transformation
Since the pandemic began, there’s been a huge jump in communication to and from patients, largely due to the constantly changing environment surrounding lockdown recommendations, quarantine duration, and treatment efficacy. Looking ahead to 2021, healthcare providers will need to develop solutions and strategies to continue addressing these needs, while also taking a more of an active role in re-engaging patients for their non-COVID related needs, like health screenings, chronic disease management or coordinating elective procedures.
Employing a digital-first approach to patient engagement and experience strategies will put healthcare organizations in a more competitive position in 2021, as patients continue to lean on remote channels for their healthcare needs and as digital-savvy brands like Amazon, Google, Walmart and Apple make larger moves into the healthcare marketplace.
Digital experience transformation involves more than just adopting digital channels and tools, it requires designing and implementing a strategy that deliver on the following patient experience needs:
- Empower patients: Adopt digital channels like patient portals, apps and chatbots to empower patients to engage and interact more easily with your healthcare organization.
- Meet and anticipate needs: Leverage data to engage and communicate with patients when, where and how they want. This data should also be used to make recommendations related to a patients’ unique care needs.
- Personalize interactions, communications and experiences: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to patient care. Each patient has their own lifestyle, background, and preferences that should dictate the type of care and communications they receive.
- Deliver a frictionless experience: It’s important to introduce more dynamic channels and tools, however doing so can create friction in the patient journey if the right steps are not taken. Make sure to adopt tools, processes and strategies that tie all of your service and care channels together, so that your patients receive a seamless, omni-channel journey and experience, no matter how, when or with whom they interact.
Healthcare in 2021 will be shaped by the emerging patient experience economy, where an organization’s ability to overcome obstacles brought on by COVID-19, and compete with emerging competitors, will be dictated by the exceptional patient experiences they provide.
At Avtex, we help healthcare brands build on existing investments, stabilize their financial situation and support their patients in achieving better health outcomes. Contact us to learn how we can help your organization deliver on these same outcomes to compete in the patient experience economy.