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By Anthony Comfort
The rapid growth of data analytics has allowed providers, payers, and other healthcare stakeholders to increase their reliance on technology and improve the quality of care, business processes, and cash flow. Advanced analytics platforms provide visibility into the revenue cycle while enabling data-driven decisions.
We live in an Amazon world. For any technology to be effective, it must be intuitive and user-friendly. Given that healthcare lags years behind most industries in innovation, even the most powerful digital healthcare tools are not beneficial to healthcare organizations if they aren’t easy to use.
If revenue cycle management (RCM) vendors are looking for a lesson, they need look no further than the failure of electronic health records (EHR) systems, which are unnecessarily complex, impossible to implement and notoriously difficult to use. One survey reported that 54% of hospitals were unhappy with their EHR and that number is probably low. Common complaints include general usability, inaccurate data entry prompts, interoperability issues, the lack of data visualization, and unpredictable system defaults.
Conversely, a technology platform with great usability can be pivotal for struggling healthcare organizations, leading to increased revenue and growth. Customer wins can in turn pave the way to success for emerging healthcare tech companies.
Unfortunately, many healthcare executives don’t adequately prioritize the experience of their own end-users. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey spanning multiple industries, including healthcare, shows that while 90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, only about half (53%) of staff agree because in most cases those who buy, don’t actually use the technology.
In an age marked by the impact of consumerism, healthcare technology companies need to take the user experience seriously if they want to succeed. Below are five specific rules that healthcare technology products and service providers must follow to deliver a superior experience throughout the entire customer journey.
1. Focus on what the customer needs
It’s easy for technology companies to become wrapped up in their solutions leading to a myopic focus on sales and growth. This ‘inside-out’ perspective can cause healthcare technology vendors to overlook critical elements that are necessary for client end-users to do their jobs.
Instead, tech companies should keep their primary focus on solving for the specific needs of their customers. By gaining a deep understanding of these needs, healthcare tech companies are better able to enhance the customer experience.
Focusing on an outcomes-based workflow, in which the technology provides a faster pathway for the customer to achieve the desired outcome, will help your customers not only succeed but also attribute some of that success to your technology.
2. Invest in exceptional UI and UX
Poor product design virtually guarantees failure. Nobody will embrace an app or a platform that is difficult or frustrating to use. Indeed, that’s why many employees will cling to older technologies or create workarounds when their company introduces a new solution.
Design is no place to cut corners! To provide customers with products they love to use, technology companies must invest heavily in design as well as iterative usability testing throughout the product development lifecycle.
3. Create fanatical client advocates
Client services can make all the difference between two vendors with identical technology solutions. The key to superior client services is commitment and passion. That means proactively working with clients to help solve their problems daily, as opposed to serving as an on-call emergency department.
Truly effective client services require embedding your staff members on the client’s team. This moves your company past an ‘if they need us, they’ll say so’ customer support mentality to embrace full customer advocacy. When your staff is immersed in the client’s culture, they’re aware of the same issues and share the same goals.
While many companies delude themselves into believing they are client-focused, the ones that deliver have a management team committed to the client’s success. It takes time and effort to build this type of client-centric culture, but growing a dedicated team of client advocates will differentiate your company from the competition.
4. Build rapid feedback loops
Product development teams are often so focused on the details of building a platform, adding clever new features, and meeting the looming deadlines that they fail to get very necessary feedback. This can lead to product designs that are not user-friendly, which is a costly and self-defeating dilemma.
Though every company has feedback loops, they aren’t always rapid enough to keep up with the pace of product development. And in some cases, the feedback loops aren’t asking the right question or getting information back from the right kinds of users. Effective feedback helps optimize your development efforts to drive value and ensures the new products and features are meeting the actual—and not imagined—needs of real users.
5. Make the process fun, both internally and externally
Fun is criminally undervalued in the professional world, especially in healthcare.
Though healthcare finance can be a somewhat dry topic, approaching it with levity and good humor can result not only in a better work environment but also in better partnerships. Indeed, fun and laughter are incredibly powerful elements for building strong teams and relationships, but internally and externally.
This could mean something as simple as light-hearted banter during a Zoom call or as ambitious as creating thematic parody videos to share with clients. Remember, teams and relationships are all about human connections, not just common goals.
Positive company culture is not just a concept but rather a practical organizational goal. When you have fun together, you work harder together. And that translates into success for your company and its customers.
Anthony Comfort is EVP, Product Management & Innovation at VisiQuate, leading provider of advanced revenue cycle analytics, intelligent workflow and AI-powered automation.