Healthcare Is Not Exclusively About Delivery. It’s an Experience Industry.

Healthcare organizations hope to acquire long-term patients and customers. However, fierce competition in the industry today means patients and customers are increasingly likely to have short-term, transactional relationships with payers and providers. Offering a better digital healthcare experience and understanding how it ties into the broader customer experience is the key to gaining and maintaining the long-term relationships you’re after.

Today’s digital healthcare experiences are more sophisticated and diverse than ever before. Retail, high-tech, and other consumer-first organizations are fueling innovation. Frankly, healthcare organizations are behind the curve in this regard. You must deliver the same quality of experience these digital-first consumer brands have set such a high bar for.

In doing so, you’ll create efficiencies and foster productivity that can boost employee satisfaction as well. The easier you make things for your customers and the more you delight them with a great digital user experience, the smoother operations will be for your internal team. So, where do you start?

Learn to Recognize Healthcare Industry Trends Creating New, Higher Standards

Intuitive. Engaging. Delightful. These are not just buzz words you’ll find on any given tech company’s meeting room whiteboard. Whether they’d describe it this way or not, these are the exact characteristics healthcare customers are looking for in their digital healthcare experience.

This expectation didn’t just arise out of the blue, either. It’s the result of digital trends cross-pollinating and bleeding together. When you consider how long most customers have been online, as well as how much online engagement increased during the pandemic, it’s not exactly surprising to see that expectations are higher than ever.

Where to Find Your Inspiration

Because customer experience and customer engagement are the hot topics in healthcare right now, it only makes sense to turn your eye toward the digital natives that excel in these areas. That means consumer brands. Consider your own experience with:

  1. Online retailers, such as Amazon
  2. Rideshare services, such as Uber or Lyft
  3. Curbside pickup services from retailers like Target
  4. Vacation booking services, such as Airbnb
  5. Experience-enhancing technology, such as Disney’s “MagicBands”

You may not think about any of this in relation to healthcare, but it absolutely informs customers’ expectations of digital experiences. And that informs their overall satisfaction with the healthcare sites, portals, and interfaces they use. The shift has happened, and healthcare needs to catch up.

What Does User Experience and Customer Experience Innovation Look Like in Healthcare, Specifically?

Technological advances in healthcare mean that healthcare itself is more and more readily available to customers. Modern technology puts healthcare tracking and management directly into consumer’s hands. This type of innovation informs both customer experience, meaning all of the interactions that customers have with companies, and user experience, meaning the usability of specific products—including healthcare apps and software. Notable recent examples of this shift include:

  1. ZOOM+Care promises “in-depth, personalized treatment” from a ZOOM+Care provider connected directly to patients through Videocare™.
  2. GoodRx Care backs its online visits with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, offering users a menu of prescription options and services to choose from—complete with pricing.
  3. Apple, meanwhile, uses its technology to put healthcare tracking and management directly into the hands of consumers with its cutting-edge Health app.
  4. Pill Pack, brought to us by Amazon Pharmacy, coordinates with customers’ doctors and insurance to gather prescriptions. The service then schedules, packages, and ships prescriptions directly.
  5. Robotics companies like Aeolus are using “Artificial Intelligence, Vision, Navigation, and Deep Learning technology” to help robots improve how they serve humans. They’ve been contracted by two long-term care companies in Japan to provide robots that will help with UVC disinfection and perform night shift patrols to monitor resident’s safety.

There is even more on the horizon. For instance, Philips is currently researching the way augmented reality and virtual reality will play into the future of care. All of this comes back to the same central fact. We’re seeing the healthcare industry transform before our eyes, and CX/UX are at the center of it all. Customer experience and user experience are the driving factors of technological advancement and business ideas in the industry.

The intersection of the physical and digital experiences reduces friction for customers. It also reduces internal workload for organizations, allows internal resources to better direct their energy and expertise, and seamlessly improves the customer experience all at the same time.

The Healthcare Experience Is Not a Linear Journey. Consider Every Point of Healthcare Customer Engagement.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “healthcare customer journey” or “healthcare experience”? What are the points of engagement that you consider? Do the following words immediately spring to mind?:

  1. Online
  2. Offline
  3. Digital
  4. Analog
  5. In-person
  6. Remote

If not, you have some adjustments to make. After birth, the standard interactions that a healthy person has with a healthcare provider will likely be annual health check-ups until there’s an urgent need for additional care. It’s imperative for an age-old industry such as healthcare to change the mindset of how people think about it. The only way to do this is to change how they experience it, no matter when they experience it.

You’re definitely not alone in maintaining a fairly limited scope of the overarching healthcare experience, but customers today expect more. Amazon isn’t looking for customers to make a single purchase. Retail giants like them have mastered winning consumer loyalty. Healthcare needs to aim for that same goal: long-term relationships won through great customer experience and brand trust.

Today’s Competitive Healthcare Experience Landscape Makes Winning Long-Term Relationships More Difficult

One reason that healthcare has fallen behind the curve is because the standard model of the healthcare experience did work for so long. Providers or payers would pick up patients or customers early on in life, even during prenatal engagements, and they would maintain that relationship throughout its’ feasible lifespan. Short of moving to a different area, there were relatively few reasons why a change might be made. This is no longer the case.

As the healthcare space grows more competitive, there are more reasons why customers may drop payers and providers. By syncing up with customers throughout the healthcare experience journey, offering concierge services, and making things as effortless as possible every step of the way, organizations stand a much better chance of both growing and retaining their customer base.

If you’re not doing this, however, the churn of customers coming on and dropping off of your service is going to catch up to you very quickly. Is it easier said than done? Yes. Is it worth doing? Absolutely.

Know your personas. Speak to your audience. Engage with them and make things easy for them at every step of their journey. And if you have any questions along the way, remember that getting an outside perspective on your healthcare systems and experiences is the best way to move forward successfully.

Map the Healthcare Ecosystem and Customer Journeys for a Seamless, Dynamic Experience

The days of getting by with slow, dated, complex, and confusing healthcare experience systems and models are over. Change the healthcare customer experience, no matter where that touchpoint may be, and you change the mindset of your audience.

That’s not just how you grow your customer base. That’s also how you develop those lifelong relationships that everyone, from retail giants entering the space to established providers and payers, are after.

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