COVID-19 forced a digital evolution of healthcare, with savvy providers quickly adapting and innovating to continue providing care throughout the crisis. This evolution brought about the emergence of the ‘patience experience economy’ with patients now expecting healthcare providers to deliver personalized, on-demand experiences, where and when the patient needs. Offering each patient the right care, in the right place and at the right time will continue to catalyze this powerful transformation of patient experience.
To maintain market share in 2021, healthcare providers will need to transform their patient interactions and experiences to be more like those provided by Amazon and Google – delivering hyper-relevant, consumer-driven experiences to every patient, across all channels. Brands must come to grips with the new normal – every custom is now comparing the experiences you provide against the last, best experience they received. It no longer makes a difference to patients that you are a healthcare brand, they expect the same flawless service and “wow” experiences that they receive from Apple and Netflix.
To deliver competitive, high-value consumer-driven care, providers must deliver on seven core patient experience expectations:
Patients expect that an experience with a provider provides a “wow” moment. It must be something that they enjoy, and it must be seamlessly easy. Creating an experiential healthcare experience involves asking the following questions:
- How can we make healthcare simple to navigate?
- How do we make sure that there's value in the navigation so that patients want to return?
- How can we create quality experiences that patients feel they can trust?
The regulatory requirements for patient data is a great example. In the past, patients have been frustrated and asked, “Why do I need to restate my healthcare story over and over to so many people?” The 21st Century Cures Act, which mandates that data is portable, enables patients to access their healthcare information and makes it easy for a patient to share their personal health data. As we look to creating an enjoyable, easier healthcare experience, finding solutions to issues like this will be key.
Transparent Practices and Communications
Patients want to know exactly what care they will receive and what it will cost.
Oftentimes, a patient will go into a provider for a treatment and have no idea what the cost is until after they get back home, or when they visit a pharmacy for a medication. In most cases, they are forced to hold their breath until they get a bill and end up shocked by the price. In today’s healthcare landscape, both technology incumbents and startups are entering into this space and saying, "We can do better." From a CVS Minute Clinic where every price is listed out, clearly describing what a procedure or an interaction costs, to business guru Mark Cuban, who just launched a generic medication company whose goal is to try to drive down medication prices, ensure that consumers know exactly what they’re getting, and understand what and why they’re paying.
Patients expect their healthcare experience to be open, honest, and trustworthy. Transparency is critical for providers to implement throughout the entire patient care journey.
The “one size fits all approach” is no more. Patients want to feel like their healthcare experience is personalized for them – meeting their unique health needs and adapting to their individual experience preferences.
Today, patients expect to be part of the conversation and decision-making process. They expect providers to work with them - and to understand their individual values, lifestyle, financial, and healthcare needs when formulating a healthcare plan. Additionally, patients expect their individual preferences around digital engagement to be taken into account. Some individuals like to use SMS, others don't. Some like to use chatbots while others like to use portals. Patients have become used to the omni-channel, digital offerings, and telehealth necessitated by the pandemic. Now, healthcare providers and organizations need to ask, “How do we collect the preferences of our members or patients so that we can personalize not only the types of messaging, but the channels in which we communicate and interact?” Critical to the success of healthcare brands will be the process of collecting the right kind of data and leveraging the right types of digital strategies and tools to deliver on these preferences.
The pandemic, along with increased comfort with technology by younger demographics, has created a strong argument for the implementation of self-service tools. Self-service is critical to simplifying navigation of the healthcare experience - and is a key part of ensuring that patients feel like they’re receiving a personalized experience. At the end of the day, self-service comes down to one thing – patient empowerment.
More now than ever, as we have more and more data and insights, we can empower patients to make decisions and to self-serve in ways they couldn't before. From presenting a calendar that empowers self-scheduling, to creating a centralized tool so that patients can view claim information and understand what services are covered by insurance. Digital technology can empower the self-service that patients demand, eliminating the need for inefficient, irritating, and wasteful provider involvement.
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Patients expect that care can be provided right here, right now. Compare this expectation against the flow of a traditional healthcare experience:
- The patient calls to make an appointment, for at least a few weeks into the future to see a provider.
- The patient must then take time off work, drive to a parking lot that might have fees, and locate a specific provider in a large facility.
- After finding their provider, the patient then sits down to fill out paperwork answering questions they’ve responded to three times before, much of which is redundant from the last visit.
- After waiting longer than they would prefer, the patient finally gets to meet someone from their care team. Many times, that care team is so busy that they have not have time to review the patient’s intake form, forcing them to regurgitate the same information once again.
- Once the physician comes in, the patient likely must share their story again, as the doctor is moving rapidly from patient to patient.
So much of the above points to time-consuming, redundant processes for both the patient and the provider. Shifting to a patient-first approach, where care is designed to be as frictionless as possible, makes this process less cumbersome for your organization. To better serve your patients, create agile solutions and an adaptable care model that will:
- Offer at-home and in-office healthcare options so patients are offered care how, when and where they want
- Streamline and transfer patient data so care can be coordinated effectively and efficiently
One thing the 2020 pandemic taught us was just how important adaptable, transportable healthcare is. Providers have to work towards a care model that can deliver quality experiences in both crisis mode and normal day-to-day life.
Most things we purchase on any given website have published reviews. From the value of the product to a comparison of costs, comments guide the shopping experience. That “shop around” mentality and ability is now coming to healthcare.
Patients are asking, “How can I know exactly what this provider offers in terms of quality care and cost?” They are making healthcare decisions with the same mentality they bring to their other shopping experience, which will heavily influence provider selection and loyalty. In looking at 2021, we are forced to ask, how can leverage things like published reviews and other data to inform on convenience and value, and thereby influence choice? How can healthcare brands evolve to meet the expectations set by other retail organizations?
Historically, care was delivered in a silo. It began with a “I don’t feel well, so I’ll go see my doctor” mentality, which created a limited patient view and care plan. Increasingly, there's a push towards preventative care and viewing the whole person instead of investigating a singular health problem. Today, we are shifting to a more comprehensive approach, in which providers engage patients earlier. Instead of simply focusing on a single acute health issue, providers are now asking how they can help patients eat well, sleep better, and exercise.
Overall, providers are engaging with patients more holistically, and helping them with the root causes of their issues rather than simply addressing the consequences of certain behavior patterns. By engaging a patient holistically, providers can bend the cost curve and provide more value. This holistic approach will help improve patients’ control over chronic diseases, create healthier lifestyles, and ultimately reduce healthcare expenditure when overall health is improved. In short, it’s time to go from “sick care” to “health care”.
The healthcare space is no longer limited to hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies. With big, tech-savvy competitors entering the market on the platforms of self-service, transparency and simplicity, healthcare provider and organizations will need to shift their mindsets, communications, and behaviors to offer consumer-first experiences that can be individually customized.
At Avtex, we are helping healthcare providers to build on existing investments, stabilize their financial situation, and help their patients achieve 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.