Three Keys to a Better Healthcare Consumer Experience
Healthcare consumers’ demands are rooted in their desire for continued or better health. While trends in retail have contributed to changes in consumers’ healthcare delivery preferences, the same desire for strong outcomes remains.
As consumers decide where, how, and when they maintain their health and wellness, they find more choices than ever, and providers find themselves in an increasingly competitive and complex landscape.
How do you compete?
Develop a healthcare delivery system and experience that meets consumer expectations while leveraging your existing strengths and partnerships.
The emergence of retail healthcare – friend or foe?
It depends on how providers respond.
Retail is attempting to close access and customer experience gaps that traditional healthcare models leave on the table by leveraging strengths like convenience to address unmet needs. The same opportunity exists for providers.
Consider where you are best equipped to engage patients more directly in their care which leads to improved health outcomes, greater experience, and realized business growth. Those are likely the areas and services that can help you deliver on your brand promise. Being everything to every consumer is not a growth strategy—or at least not a very good one. Sharpen your differentiation, strengthen your brand promise, and stay true to it in your actions.
Three keys to building a better consumer experience
1- CREATE GREATER ACCESS
Simply put, there is no consumer experience without access. Think like a consumer to understand the access needs in your community and ways you can help fulfill them.
For example, Jane feels like she might have a fever and is starting to develop a painful rash on her side. She’s also a single mom who needs to drive her kids to karate lessons. She hopes to be able to meet with her provider by phone while she waits for practice to end.
Are you ready to fulfill Jane’s needs? Until you resolve access issues, it won't matter how much time and money you spent on a beautiful waiting room, world-class workflows, or thank-you notes. Experience and quality don't start until consumers can more easily access your services and products.
To increase access, it’s time to reconsider who’s a competitor versus a potential partner. Clearly understand your organization's value proposition and where you have weaknesses to develop strategies for partnerships — including retail health. Everyone in the healthcare ecosystem – payers, providers, pharmacies, PBMs, retail health – can play a role in removing barriers to access. For example, you may drive better outcomes for chronic care. How do you partner with a retail primary care clinic to funnel in chronic needs into your clinics?
2- GET SERIOUS ABOUT TECH-ENABLED CARE.
Can Jane use her mobile phone for a telehealth visit? Can she find a clinic with an opening with a covered provider within a few blocks of her kid’s practice?
Are your strategy and operations working together to deliver care? There are many digital channels available for care today, so it’s important to understand which ones support your brand promise and divest from the ones that increase your technical debt.
Remember that communicating, educating, and gaining consumer adoption is just as important as tech-enabled care. The “build it and they will come” approach to omnichannel health does not apply in this case. Follow the consumer’s expectations and demands as you implement new channels of care. Special attention to new channel integration will heavily influence experience and adoption, and internal change management is critical for success. Your providers and staff need to be ready to use and support customers across chosen channels.
Learn about making omnichannel work for healthcare HERE.
3- REDEFINE THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE
Jane reached out to her primary care physician who offered to conduct a telehealth visit and asked her to provide a photo of her rash through their secure system. She didn’t realize she could provide details, like a photo, to her provider before the appointment even started. Her provider will go into their virtual visit with more information and context.
This is your opportunity to redefine the patient experience and measure it in a way that is actually meaningful to the consumer.
Traditional measurement doesn’t often incorporate what is most important to consumers: maintaining or regaining their health. Traditional metrics are built into perfunctory provider questionnaires that allow them to check the box on compliance or generic, post-visit surveys with questions like “How happy were you with your visit today?” There are better ways to measure the patient voice that bring outcomes into patient satisfaction reporting. Patient-reported outcomes (PRO) are becoming a more common way to understand patient satisfaction and the quality of care.
But what does a 10 on a satisfaction scale truly mean to a patient? Now is the time to dive a little deeper into what the ideal experience is for your healthcare consumers and then push it even further. An example of an experience-design tactic is to understand what that 10 means and then ask what an 11 would look like? That 11 is where innovation exists. It’s possible for your patients not only to be satisfied but also delighted.
The value of meeting customer expectations
What is the ultimate value for your organization when a consumer receives the right treatment at the right time at the right place?
- Sustainable patient flow and complex care coordination
- Improved financial stability for your providers
- Lower cost of care
- Quality outcomes
- Equitable care
- Brand building and patient loyalty
Getting back to our example, Jane’s doctor quickly identified that she has shingles and prescribed an antiviral and topical cream for the pain. Although studies are inconclusive, stress may be a contributing factor. Her doctor prompts a discussion about behavioral health factors and ways Jane might alleviate stress. Two months later, Jane receives an EOB that aligns with her payment expectations, and she’s using a doctor-recommended remote therapy service to help her manage stress on her own schedule.
Thinking through real-life examples like Jane’s can help you better understand consumer needs and discover opportunities to simplify and coordinate care. Jane wants to be seen as a whole person and have the nuances of her life considered as an important input for her care. Don’t we all?
Creating greater access, tech-enabled care, and a redefined experience is incredibly complex. It requires a strategy and coordination across your people, processes, and technology, which are all unique to every healthcare provider and system. If you’re looking to enhance the healthcare experience, consider contacting Point B to help you imagine and realize what’s possible.