Thanks to rising healthcare costs and more digital marketplace choices than ever, the patient-doctor relationship is becoming increasingly customer-driven. Providers and patients want a seamless, convenient, and flexible relationship, but many healthcare professionals struggle to create customer experiences (CX) that prioritize compassionate care and efficient, revenue-generating processes.
Just how challenging is the healthcare landscape? Accenture reports that 67% of patients have had a negative healthcare experience. That means creating a good customer experience can help a healthcare facility stand out in a very positive way and determine whether it is successful or not.
In this article, we’ll discuss the rising importance of CX in the healthcare industry and why it is vital for healthcare organizations to prioritize and manage CX.
Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare
Before diving into specific trends, let’s talk about what CX means in the healthcare industry. Specifically, CX refers to how patients perceive every stage of their experiences — both in-person and online — with a healthcare organization.
Whether a patient has a positive or negative CX significantly impacts whether they return for future care or switch to another provider. According to Press Ganey’s Consumer Trends Report, communication and customer service are vital to CX and, therefore, customer retention. Unfortunately, many organizations in the healthcare industry still struggle to incorporate CX best practices for patients because independent providers face barriers in getting the resources they need to implement user-friendly patient portals and other technology improvements that automate their processes.
When CX in healthcare is done well, the provider earns significant benefits. It creates positive reviews and therefore a competitive edge that helps retain patients, streamlines operational processes for the practice, impacts brand reputation, and helps businesses save money through operational efficiencies and low patient turnover. All together, investing in quality CX is vital to the longevity of your practice.
How to Improve Customer Experience in Healthcare
You can find the answer to this question by looking at the customer experience trends in healthcare we expect to see this year. The following are top trends we’re seeing — and how you can use them to improve your customer experience.
1. Augmenting existing relationships with telehealth.
The digitization of healthcare shouldn’t replace traditional doctor-patient relationships. Instead, you can blend both in-person and virtual care environments into a single model of care that provides patients with the personalization of a physical relationship and the convenience of a digital experience.
For example, you can offer patients the ability to schedule their appointment online and provide follow-up video visits and digital notes, but still give them an in-person option to meet physically with their doctor if preferred and/or needed.
2. Understanding patients expect a streamlined digital experience.
In a world where patients are accustomed to streamlining apps and digital platforms in other areas of their lives, they also expect their healthcare providers to possess similar streamlined, personalized experiences. That means on-demand visits with doctors and EMR integration are essential.
Patients want the option of virtual care. They also expect it to be convenient, secure, and accessible. Patients’ expectations are now starting to drive virtual care models instead of the other way around, with providers trying to educate and “push” telehealth offerings. That is a trend that will only increase moving forward, so investing in a better digital experience now will pay dividends in the months and years ahead.
3. Focusing on value-based care.
This is the year of improving patient, caregiver, and provider satisfaction. That goes beyond simple positive reviews and extends to optimizing every aspect of the patient, provider, and caregiver experience — from scheduling appointments and patient care to follow-up visits and communication.
For patients with chronic conditions, the value-based care model allows the patient to be seen more often through the use of telehealth to help them avoid expensive ER visits. Virtual visits and appointments for follow-up visits will be key components here.
4. Providing a more “human” healthcare experience.
Right now, a massive healthcare digital transformation trend is happening that is propelling healthcare organizations toward a more humanized experience. New and innovative technology developments make virtual interaction more “human” and “in-person.” For example, virtual visits can include visual, physical exams — a dermatologist looking at a suspicious mole, for example — without the patient ever having to go into the office.
Improving customer experience in healthcare can be as simple as understanding these trends and applying them to your healthcare organization. And it can make all the difference for your practice’s reputation, patient satisfaction level, referrals, and, ultimately, the longevity of your organization.
The key is to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and walk through each step of their journey so you can understand what matters to them, where they’re getting stuck, and what you can do to improve their situation. Changes can be incremental, but they’ll add up to a noticeable boost in brand, reputation, and practice success.
Keri Souza is vice president of marketing at AMD Global Telemedicine, a provider of virtual care technology and telehealth solutions. Keri leads with over 20 years of experience overseeing the marketing planning and strategies of various B2B technology products.