Consumerism has reached critical mass in healthcare. Consumers expect technology to work intuitively, regardless of its underlying complexity. And in healthcare – an industry that tends to segment consumers into patient or member experience silos – consumers increasingly expect a seamless, holistic, digital health journey.
Today, entire industries such as healthcare, banking, insurance, and business-to-business (B2B) sales are being rewired around customers and end-users. Experiences in these sectors are becoming more consumer-like: channel-less, mobile, more visually oriented, and replete with easy-to-use features that maximize personalization, touch interactivity, and natural language search.
If your organization hasn’t already begun to embrace consumerism, how can you start? Here are five tips.
Tip 1: Mine Your Inspiration
Savvy healthcare innovators leverage the power of consumerization by first observing what works in domains outside of their own, and then adapting those successes to address their own challenges. They look for adjacent innovations with the potential for broader application, adopting features from one market to create a new product or improve an existing one.
You can get started by mapping the customer journey, uncovering pain points, and opportunities across their interactions with your brand. Then widen your inquiry to learn from your customers as they interact with brands well outside your industry. How do they address problems like the ones you’re attempting to solve? How do they interact with those to whom they are the most loyal? Say you want to promote healthy choices amongst your patients or members. What might you learn from studying emerging innovations used by virtual personal trainers, e-learning platforms, or even credit card companies?
Steve Jobs said it best: “Figure out what the consumer needs before they do.” Know your consumers, anticipate their needs, and deliver in inspired, meaningful ways.
Tip 2: Rally Your Success Team
Once you have an idea for the consumerized experiences you want to create, it’s time to rally others, starting with a message of the value it adds for patients, members, and your business.
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Whether a provider or payor, it’s critical to engage multiple areas of your organization. Providers need to think about the entire patient care experience, not just the marketing-led version. Likewise, payors need to rethink all elements of interaction – from a portal to mobile, to authorizations and claims. Use precursors, analogies, and success stories to prove how adjacent solutions might be applicable and adapted.
And consider this as well: if you enable a “consumerized” interaction at a specific point in a patient/member experience, what insights can you gain for other points along their journey? And how can others in your organization benefit from those deepened understandings?
Identify early adopters who can help secure first wins and gain a foothold among broader audiences. These steps are vital to socializing your vision and paving the way for investment and adoption. By understanding the drivers of consumerization, switched-on innovation leaders can more fully reap the benefits in today’s consumer age.
Tip 3: Power Up With AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay, and organizations that want to maintain their competitive edge realize that embracing AI is a must. According to Forrester, 31% of companies want to use AI to significantly improve their customer experience.1 However, that’s only scratching the surface of AI’s full potential. With an increasing number of experiences powered by AI, such as voice search and virtual agents, it’s reshaping how consumers behave and make decisions. This puts the impetus on leaders to continuously identify innovative opportunities that meet consumers’ ever-evolving expectations.
Tip 4: Empower, Transparently
Today’s healthcare consumers demand a more significant say in their care. Healthcare companies need to recognize the new decision-making power that consumers have and figure out effective ways to engage with them. The key is to get to know your consumers and then design points of engagement (e.g., portals, apps, communications, and content strategy, etc.) that focus on meeting patient/member needs.
As consumers gain access to more information, including service providers, procedures, and – yes, at times – even pricing, the less loyal they become to any one company or brand. It might seem like healthcare would be immune to that trend, but it’s not. A common mistake is to create patient-facing solutions that address a business need, rather than a patient need, which leads to low user adoption. Consumer needs simply must come first.
Tip 5: Enable a Sure Foundation
To meet consumer expectations, you must engage consumers wherever and whenever they may be. Websites, portals, mobile apps, chatbots, telehealth, and personalized communications are the tip of the iceberg. Consumers crave even more: virtual devices, wearables, IoT, gamification, wayfinding – a holistic health journey.
These incredible experiences can’t run without data, and they indeed can’t run at optimal capacity without a well-formulated integration plan. The “shiny objects” that delight your consumers must be supported by mature platforms and infrastructure, which then support the data assets and analytics capabilities that empower innovation. Think of it as addressing the full iceberg – all the exciting, customer-facing elements visible above the waterline, stabilized and powered by the vital foundation hidden below: collaboration and interoperability net all the pieces together.
Creating an excellent healthcare experience reaps the rewards well beyond patient or member satisfaction. It boosts consumers’ access to care while driving down operating costs and improving your bottom line.
Simultaneously, it can help instill trust and build your brand reputation, leading individuals to consolidate their care with your organization. Importantly, it underscores the healthcare systems’ organizational mission to keep people and communities healthy.
Nine of the 10 largest healthcare providers and the five largest healthcare plans in the US count on Perficient, an award-winning global digital consultancy that is transforming how the world’s leading brands connect with customers and grow their business. Learn more at perficient.com/healthcare.
1 Gownder, J., Joseph, L., & Lu, G. (2018, November 01). AI And Automation Aren’t Quick Wins – Invest Anyway. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://go.forrester.com/blogs/ai-and-automation-arent-quick-wins-invest-anyway/