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Healthcare Transformation: Changing the Patient Experience

Healthcare Transformation: Changing the Patient Experience

Treating patients as customers

When you hear the word patient, you likely think of someone under a doctor’s care, either in or out of a hospital or perhaps someone getting physical therapy.

Traditionally, the word “patient” is very passive. Wikipedia says a patient is any recipient of health care services. The recipient is ill or injured and in need of treatment by a physician, nurse, psychologist, dentist, veterinarian or other healthcare provider.

The way our system works today in the U.S., it makes it hard for most to participate in their own health care. What if the healthcare system started to see us as customers, instead of patients? With the help of technology and the internet, this is exactly where we are headed.

That being said, healthcare technology is exploding; it’s on the cusp of creating platforms that will be able to integrate both software programs and hardware for this patient-to-customer transformation.

This is what the future looks like for customers in the healthcare system: The future will focus less on the location where it happens, but instead on convenience, customer service, choice, and cost, according to an article by IT services consulting company Cognizant.

Providers need to stay relevant by keeping up-to-date digitally and that doesn’t just mean with a mobile website

For example, Walgreens Boots Alliance is doing just that by partnering up with Microsoft for the purpose of combining cloud and AI technology and Microsoft 365 with Walgreen’s expertise and commitment to helping communities lead healthier and happier lives, says the Microsoft press release from January of this year.

Together, they will put people at the center of their health with “integrated next-gen, digitally enabled health care delivery solutions, that will transform stores into modern neighborhood health destinations.”

Healthcare providers must think like retailers

Retailers have been using technology for years to provide better (now more personalized than ever) customer experiences, creating customer loyalists. In turn, healthcare providers and payers must do the same to stay competitive in their industry. 

In general, connecting digitally with patients means understanding their journey, no matter if it is inside and outside the facility. Providers should use technology that will enhance the patient journey. Almost everyone searches online, and more than 80% of people who do turn to the internet not just for merchandise, but for healthcare information as well.

That being said, here are just a few things providers and payers can do to shift to a customer-focused strategy:

  • Offer virtual appointments
  • Schedule appointments online
  • Quick responses to questions, via email or a chat function
  • Solicit online reviews from patients

The value in providers owning their reviews also means they can improve their Google ranking. Publishing patient satisfaction survey scores should be a part of all provider profiles.

Providers should also take note and glean insights from retailers that craft in-store and online experiences that engage shoppers. Using retail examples, providers can help incorporate wellness into our daily lives by:

  • Giving access to on-demand information
  • Providing extended hours
  • Offering affordable services
  • Providing transparent pricing 
  • Offering walk-in clinics

In 2000, the very first retail health clinic opened that was designed to be locally relevant and tailored to specific needs, and 44% of those patient/customer visits took place when physician offices were typically closed. 

There is a clear message that patients are adopting consumer-like behaviors. Now is the time for swift action by providers and payers alike.

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