Could Customer Experience Be a Panacea for Healthcare?

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In the US, healthcare is the fifth-largest industry and contributes over 1.2 trillion dollars to the country's gross domestic product. However, when it comes to the simplicity of the healthcare experience, it came last out of 25 surveyed industries.

This is due in part to a strange contradiction in the application of technology in the healthcare industry. On one hand, the sector has some of the most modern and impressive technology known to man - used to diagnose and treat an enormous range of diseases and conditions. On the other, it still relies on paper forms in the waiting room and manual charts and notes for doctors to fill out. Compounding this issue are long waiting times, confusing language, complex insurance policies - all of which conspire to create a negative patient experience.

Obviously, very few people visit a hospital out of choice, and every effort should be made to ensure that any periphery experiences are as easy and streamlined as possible so that patients can focus on the important business of getting well.

Customer Experience in Healthcare

Due to the nature of the healthcare business, it can be easy to forget that your patients are also customers. This can mean experience considerations are not given the same weight as they may in industries such as retail. However, if you want your healthcare brand to succeed in the future, it may be time to start adopting a new mentality.

The best way to achieve this is to start thinking about those people using your services not only as patients, but also as customers, approaching your experience strategy in the same way a retail company might.

Retail is constantly finding new ways to improve those little details which help facilitate amazing customer experiences. Whether it's equipping associates with tablets so they can serve customers on the shop floor or providing additional information for them through digital signage, smart shelves, beacon technology, and more - which all serve to reduce the pressure put on associates and thus reduce waiting times - retail is using innovative thinking and technology to change the way people shop.

And it's this kind of thinking which can help healthcare providers offer exceptional patient experience as well. Allowing patients to fill out forms on tablets will not only make registering for medical care simpler and more efficient, but the forms can be automatically uploaded to the cloud where they can be accessed by authorized parties - eliminating the need to either manually enter the details into computer systems, or make sure copies of the forms get to the people who need them.

Making more healthcare information available online or through live chat systems can help prevent the spread of disease by keeping people inside when a visit to a practitioner is unnecessary - while simultaneously lifting some of the strain on staff, especially at emergency rooms.

A Bottom-Line Impact

Boosting the patient experience at your healthcare business will not only result in happier customers, but you'll also feel the effect on your bottom line.

Recent research has shown that immunization prescriptions increase in a positive correlation with customer satisfaction and that this rate increases when that satisfaction is felt across multiple touchpoints, such as during the prescription journey and in patients' interactions with pharmacy representatives. This demonstrates that people who have a good experience with a healthcare brand will behave in much the same way they do with any other consumer-facing company - they will come back for that all-important repeat business.

Final Thoughts

In the hustle and bustle of delivering clinical outcomes, it's sometimes easy to forget that patients are people and that the same principles and behavioral strategies used in other industries are just as applicable in the healthcare sector. However, accessing healthcare can naturally be a very stressful time, not just for patients, but for their friends and families as well. This means that every measure should be taken to ensure that periphery activities such as form-filling are as simple, streamlined, and unobtrusive as possible.

In the healthcare sector, customer experience should be focused on making the customer feel empathized with and cared for.

"Pharma companies urgently need a more holistic, cohesive, and actionable framework of customer experience measurement to understand the multidimensional nature of their customer relationships," reports eConsultancy. "And only a more holistic and cohesive approach will allow companies to take action to truly improve those relationships and build long-term equity with those customers. Because that is the ultimate goal of CX focus in pharma."

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