We live largely digital lives, with the average U.S. adult spending more than 12 hours a day with online media, according to Nielsen. We also demand ease and simplicity in all of the interactions we have with businesses and expect engaging and personalized content.
But until now, the healthcare industry has lagged in its digital capability. This is changing, however, with the rise of new sources of competition and growing patient expectations for comprehensive digital experiences in which they can search, schedule, interact, and pay for healthcare via the channels of their choice. This new “digital front door,” spanning patient acquisition through fulfillment, will increasingly replace the emergency department as the primary acquisition strategy. With consumers migrating toward this digital front door, providers must embrace a host of new capabilities and approach their digital experience strategy as a crucial differentiator to ensure success.
Digital experiences are not only good for patient engagement, they also impact the bottom line. Deloitte research shows that health systems with excellent patient-experience ratings have a net margin of 4.7%, on average, compared with 1.8% for hospitals with low ratings.
So what do patients consider a good digital healthcare experience? Not surprisingly, it mirrors the digital retail experiences they encounter almost daily. After conducting hundreds of interviews over three years, Change Healthcare has identified three primary pain points in the healthcare digital experience.
1. Lack of transparent and clear information: Patients are customers, and they want to shop for and choose their care using the same digital tools they use everywhere else, with access to consumer reviews, pricing, and location. But most healthcare systems fall short in providing this information. In fact, lack of clear information was mentioned as a major pain point by 22% of patients while shopping for healthcare.
2. Lack of integration and convenience: In the retail world, consumers’ shopping preferences and data follow them along their digital journeys. In healthcare, on the other hand, patients are expected to be the gatekeeper of their own data and preferences, which often means knowing and repeating their information at every new interaction with the healthcare system. No wonder 18% of consumers surveyed in our study cited lack of integration and convenience as another pain point.
3. Not feeling respected or cared for by their doctor: Care providers are busy and can often feel disconnected from patients as they strive to hit revenue goals. This has an unfortunate impact on patients and, in turn, the entire care system. Thirty-nine percent of patients surveyed in our study mentioned not feeling respected or cared for by their doctors. Now imagine such results applied to the retail word. If 39% of customers felt unwanted, a merchant wouldn’t stay in business very long. And with value-based care becoming more prevalent, providers with this model won’t be able to stay in business very long either.
Now, flip each of these three pain points 180 degrees, and the ideal consumer healthcare experience emerges.
- Providing clear and transparent information to prospective patients builds trust.
- Removing the burden of patients acting as gatekeepers of their healthcare data creates convenience, reduces redundancies, and eliminates errors.
- And extending care beyond the four walls of the doctor’s office through personalized information and support nurtures a respectful and caring relationship between provider and patient.
Imagine a world where a patient can not only access care but experience the delight of a purposefully designed, digitally enabled experience. Patients could choose a provider based on consumer and peer reviews, cost, and location, then schedule their appointments, receive after-care instructions, view and pay their bills, access their medical records, and follow up with their care provider, all via the channels that work for them: SMS, email, mobile app, or portal. Additionally, they would receive personalized messages, recommendations, engaging content, and digital interactions.
This is the way of the future for healthcare, where the same customer experience management strategies that so effectively build loyalty and retention for the best retail brands also serve as the foundation for a pain-free customer experience.