Transforming customer experience in healthcare for the digital age

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Customer experience (CX) has quickly become a top business priority as more of us interact and transact online. However, CX transformation initiatives are rare in the healthcare sector, despite the increasing adoption and use of virtual care visits. While research has shown that virtual care is as safe, effective and efficient as in-person care, a prominent delivery gap in the industry emerges when consumers do not feel that the eventual patient outcomes are in fact similar.

It’s clear then that the healthcare sector could benefit from a major CX overhaul. In fact, among consumers who said they wouldn’t have another virtual care visit, approximately 20% of patients did not like the way their clinician treated them. If the global pandemic was the “push factor” that accelerated businesses to go digital, then it should similarly incentivise the healthcare industry to put customers at the center of healthcare offerings and better focus on patient needs.

Consumers are becoming more discerning and informed about their health than ever before, demanding more affordable, transparent and personalised healthcare. For instance, research from Accenture suggests that both Gen X and baby boomers are highly supportive of using telemonitoring devices to track health indicators, as well as video communications with their healthcare providers – a paradigm shift exacerbated by the pandemic.

While the telehealth programme in Singapore has been available since 2017, the number of use cases tripled within the first 6 months of the pandemic alone. In January this year, the total number of users, old and new combined, surged to at least 36, 000. This is hardly surprising, considering how the pandemic had helped to spotlight fresh – and oftentimes, critical – use cases. With 1 in 4 Singaporeans turning 65 years and above by 2030, elderly who would do best to minimise public exposure in the ongoing pandemic can remain connected, healthy and safe through adopting telehealth services. 

To better meet the challenge of consumers’ high expectations, healthcare providers must move towards establishing meaningful engagement with patients, clinicians, and physicians, with CX at the center of these initiatives. Transitioning towards a value-based care (VBC) model can provide better patient outcomes, drive down the overall cost of serving patients, and reduce wasteful spending. Digital platforms can help achieve this integrated care approach through:

  1. Enhanced analytics that improve patient care
  2. Improved clinical productivity with data transparency
  3. Streamlined operations that provide care beyond the hospital
  4. Personalised patient experiences

Enhanced analytics that improve patient care

Patients would greatly benefit from an integrated digital system that allows information to be shared across healthcare providers. Having access to the vast amount of data spread across clinical, operational, and administrative systems and departments, including third party data, will allow Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) to get a true 360-degree view of their patients’ health history, make more informed decisions and deliver a higher standard of care. Doing so can substantially reduce instances of overdiagnosis and treatment in patients, as well as improve patient satisfaction.

Improved clinical productivity with data transparency

The ability to consolidate multiple data sources and systems into a single source of truth can significantly improve clinical productivity and reduce critical clinical errors. However, many systems currently used by HDOs still limit transparency and sharing of data across departments. A single view of the patient across departments would allow physicians to make decisions with 100% of the data in real-time.

Streamlining operations to provide care beyond the hospital

With patient-centric outcomes becoming the norm, HDOs have the opportunity to reduce their operational costs and meet the patient on their terms in their home environment. Building an omnichannel care solution for both patients and physicians (e.g., telehealth systems, in-home care management, healthcare mobile apps) would allow organizations to rapidly prototype, test with end users, and make changes within hours. These time savings translate directly to better patient outcomes: While patients at public health facilities could wait up to 3 hours for care and consultation, telemedicine guarantees immediate care.

Personalising patient experiences

Applying lessons learned from customer experience initiatives in other industries will aid in the creation of new digital systems, giving healthcare providers the ability to rapidly build patient-facing apps for purposes such as researching their prescribed drugs, evaluating their treatment options, accessing, and controlling their medical information, and more.

Rapid innovation in digital medicine, digital consumer engagement, AI, and virtual care are fast disrupting traditional business and operating models of HDOs. Adapting to these trends through new integrated care delivery models is paramount for the healthcare industry to avoid isolation in an increasingly consumer-centric and digital society. Beyond digital transformation, organisational transformation is key. A new lens is required when developing digital business strategy and enterprise IT architecture and translating it into effective execution. HDOs can no longer just adapt, they have to optimize their digital roadmaps to focus on better digital experiences for clinicians and patients. This shift towards CX is all the more important given the current situation with the pandemic. Global lockdowns and safety restrictions may see us visiting a healthcare professional online sooner than we think – and we would all be better off knowing that our health is in good hands.

Contributed ByMark Weaser, Vice President, APAC, OutSystems.

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