Throughout the healthcare industry, providers and payers alike are looking to understand what drives consumer choice. The medical journey - especially when diagnosed with a significant illness - is complicated and differs greatly from the consumer experience in other industries. But as consumers take a more active role in managing their health care, our need to understand what matters most to them is increasingly important.
Let’s consider the basics first. Consumers are seeking greater personalization; transparency in network coverage, prices, and bills; access and convenience; and more engaging digital experiences. From doctor’s appointments to hospitalizations, consumers are looking for high quality services tailored to their individual needs from health care providers, payers and supply chain players.
The rapid improvement in technology advances in other industries are causing consumers to expect the same in their healthcare experience. If they can book a flight from their mobile device, why not a doctor’s appointment? Convenience should be enhanced to allow patients’ self-research, scheduling, intake, and the discussion of follow-on treatment needs. This process remains largely manual today. A clear opportunity exists in expanding the digital connection to enhance convenience and personalization for the health care consumer.
There are 3 categories of opportunity for us within the industry to enhance the consumer's overall experience:
1. Personal Interactions
This is simply how we spend time with the individual and do not make them feel rushed. We must actively listen. We must show empathy and genuine care, getting to know the patient as a human - and their unique situation. As an industry, we must get better at explaining tests, treatments, options, side-effects, and expected outcomes. Finally, we must improve the way we share our findings with other providers who are involved in managing a patient’s overall health.
2. Access and Coverage
Patients want to know their providers and options being recommended are “in-network” and covered. They’re tired of surprise bills from providers within the supply chain who bill them significant amounts after the fact. Consumers want to know when a component of care or service delivery will not be covered by their benefit plan or covered at an out-of-network level. (Example: your anesthesiologist was not “in network” even though you picked a surgeon and facility who were - so you owe that out of pocket).
Consumers are tired of excessive wait times for providers. They are seeking options for appointments on the date and time when they need them. They want help with billing questions - someone who will work on an issue until it is completely resolved. Consumers increasingly want to schedule an appointment with a doctor or hospital online or via their mobile device. They seek the ability to share data from their personal health monitoring tools with their doctor or family. They are increasingly turning to mobile video or text/chat that enables them to quickly and easily resolve their issues in a virtual way. The would like to have accessible online resources and/or social networking communities for health information and support.
The healthcare consumer’s desires are pretty clear: experiences that are highly personal; real access and transparency on costs and coverage; and convenience. Creating that total experience requires provider and payer collaboration. It requires legacy companies to partner with young innovators who are bringing new digital tools to our service.
Finally, we must acknowledge that our one-on-one human interactions are at the heart of the consumer’s health care experience. That includes our customer service lines, front desk teams, care management support, scheduling, and practitioner interaction. All of our “improvements” must support and enhance those interactions.