The rise of retail pharmacies, digital-first healthcare startups, and hybrid care providers of accessible, on-demand care has awakened the healthcare consumer. With this consumerization of healthcare, patients now expect the same personalized, proactive and predictive experience they encounter with retail, financial and hospitality brands.
Most traditional healthcare organizations are ill-equipped to meet those needs and are instead grappling with outdated technology infrastructure not designed to deliver the type of experience their patients expect. How can legacy health providers shift to meet the evolving needs of the consumerized patient?
They should take a page from any number of enterprise organizations looking to improve their own employee and customer experience.
Customer experience (CX) — encompassing every touchpoint and interaction within the customer journey — is an essential pillar of success for businesses and organizations of all types. Similar to the customer experience, patient experience for years has focused on traditional measures of customer satisfaction, including Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Healthcare Provider and Systems Scores (HCAHPS), and interactions with frontline staff.
Our research suggests prioritizing the following key areas to make progress:
- Hit refresh on your CX strategy.
- Adopt an omnichannel and unified commerce strategy to enable a seamless and connected care journey.
- Harness the power of generative AI to unlock emotionally aware, actionable insights.
- Empower employees as customer experience champions.
- Enable organization-wide innovation.
Now, how do these priorities apply to the healthcare industry and patient experience?
If patients are increasingly seeing themselves as customers first and patients second and are taking more control of their healthcare decisions, their digital healthcare experience should mirror that.
For healthcare organizations, this means creating fast, convenient and affordable healthcare experiences in virtual and non-traditional settings. Healthcare organizations can start with the following steps to refresh their patient experience strategy:
- Conduct an honest assessment of your current strategy. Evaluate the current state of patient experience. What are the current points of friction, obstacles and challenges? Document these and other observations as a starting point.
- Update patient research and data analysis. Conduct research on healthcare consumers, including focus groups, digital channel analytics, healthcare industry reports and user experience (UX) testing of existing tools. Looking into your patients' customer journeys, what patterns and behaviors can inform strategies to reduce attrition and improve loyalty? This should inform your revised patient experience strategy.
- Develop a comprehensive approach to data strategy and governance to derive actionable insights from thousands of disparate data sources. By leveraging the right technology, data insights will inform real-time or near real-time decisions that will improve patient experience. Use a product management framework to prioritize and roadmap experiences. Once you have an accurate assessment of your current strategy and research and insight into your healthcare consumer, a product management framework will help you create a roadmap for individual product areas (e.g., the patient portal, messaging platforms for appointment scheduling and reminders, interactive voice response systems, and the organization's public-facing website or mobile applications) and prioritize accordingly.
- Learn and iterate continuously. Evaluate and adapt your patient experience strategy on an ongoing basis.
Digital experiences help healthcare organizations and providers connect with patients wherever they are in the care journey. An omnichannel strategy will help eliminate silos between individual touchpoints to deliver information to the patient as quickly as possible. Whether a patient is checking in for an in-person visit, scheduling a future appointment, accessing telemedicine, paying a bill or following up with their provider, their experience and interactions — both in person and virtually — should be consistent and seamless.
Yet, most major health systems are leveraging electronic health record (EHR) portals as the primary (or only) component of this digital entry point, often with off-the-shelf third-party applications. Many fewer have built their own digital front door or marketplace. This current state creates a clunky, one-size-fits-all, siloed experience through EHR portals with few dynamic, personalized self-service features. This often fails to provide any sense of connection for the patient. These EHR systems are also confusing for clinicians and staff, contributing to a negative employee experience.
Healthcare organizations should work toward providing a single, unified digital entry point for patients to engage with the health system between traditional in-person care, functioning as a storefront to their suite of digital tools, with the goal of connecting all the complicated components of a patient's health ecosystem and offer personalized self-service. This could include:
- More self-service options to better manage their care.
- More on-demand care options.
- More omnichannel options for traditionally telephonic processes.
- A better and more transparent financial experience.
Healthcare systems will benefit from continued investment in the patient digital experience by building digital applications with user-centric designs that are intuitive and frictionless. These will help create an improved, contiguous patient experience, across both physical and digital interactions. To accomplish this, organizations will need to modernize infrastructure that can scale and support these applications.
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