What Patients want?

CJulio J Hernandez, Global Customer COE Lead, KPMG
CJulio J Hernandez, Global Customer COE Lead, KPMG

CJulio J Hernandez, Global Customer COE Lead, KPMG

How technology is strengthening customer experience in healthcare?

Delivering a great customer experience has become a top priority for most brands. Companies in sectors ranging from hotels and retailers to banks and insurance companies are pulling out all the stops to offer strong, consistent service, both online and in-store, to attract and retain customers. It’s something today’s consumers have come to expect.

Historically, the healthcare sector hasn’t had a strong track record of offering exceptional customer service. Patient experiences have long been frustrated by inefficient scheduling systems, longer-than-expected wait times, difficulties accessing health records, and lack of information — or even misinformation — about what might be ailing them. While providing healthcare can be a lot more complex than providing products and services in some other industries, most consumers don’t consider that when seeking care. Many still expect a positive experience, regardless of the industry.

The healthcare system is changing as more organizations wake up to the importance of delivering better patient experiences. Many organizations are following the lead of successful customer-facing organizations in other sectors. A growing number of healthcare organizations are taking advantage of the latest technologies, offered mostly through digital platforms, to better serve patients.

  The healthcare system is changing as more organizations wake up to the importance of delivering better patient experiences  

Consumers are catching on. Research shows 59 percent of the U.S. consumers today expect their health care digital customer experience to be similar to retail. Another survey shows 82 percent of consumers believe the health care industry should regularly meet or exceed their expectations, compared to just 46 percent in retail.

The goal for organizations is to ensure their experiences require their customers to expend little effort, which research shows is the strongest tie to customer loyalty.

Healthcare providers are responding to these increasing expectations by offering more efficient, personalized experience similar to what consumers may get from their favorite hotel, fitness studio or clothing brands. Research shows 90 percent of health care providers see improving consumer experience as a top strategic priority, while nearly two-thirds believe developing digital tools to enhance the experience is a high priority. Organizations that don’t have a customer-first mindset risk falling behind.

Technology powers a better patient experience

The majority of patients want to see improvements in many areas such as searching for a doctor or specialist, making or changing an appointment, paying bills, and accessing test results or family health records. To fill the gaps, healthcare providers are increasingly embracing new technologies that enable them to deliver the services patients want and mitigate the risk of losing them to the competition.

For the first time in history, there are five different generations being served by the healthcare system, each with unique needs and perspectives. KPMG research shows traditional life events play out, but differently over generations. This creates tremendous complexity around providing personalized customer experience.

Leading healthcare providers are considering each stage of the patient journey and how they can use technology to shape and transform customer experiences. The journey often begins online, where patients are searching for a doctor or specialist to meet their needs. Before booking an appointment, patients are increasingly reading online practitioner reviews. In the case of office visits, organizations are cutting down on wait times by offering texting services to alert patients when the doctor is ready to see them. A growing number of healthcare providers are also providing online video visits for more routine checkups. Organizations are also putting in place technology solutions that enable consumers to seamlessly handle routine transactions such as filling prescriptions, accessing test results and paying bills.

These digital healthcare tools aren’t just for the tech-savvy Millennials, either. Baby boomers, who are more likely to seek healthcare services as they age, are also relying on technology to make their experiences more efficient, informative, empowered, enjoyable or all of the above.

Understanding the customer experience

For CIOs and their teams, technology solutions must be based on a strong understanding of the current and desired future customer experience. Only then can it be determined which technologies should be invested to meet future state requirements.

CIOs start this process by gathering the best information and requirements around investing in new technology and systems. CIOs today need to include mapping of the end-to-end customer experience, and the touch points within that experience, to achieve the best results. Leading organizations understand the importance of connecting with the customer, understanding their moments of truth and then use technology to create a personalized experience.

Providing a great customer experience, regardless of the industry, includes some fundamental components such as empathy and personalization, where services are tailored to a customer’s unique needs. A good experience also means meeting expectations and certain standards of integrity. The organization’s level of success and consistency in meeting these expectations and standards determines the level of customer trust. Having defined the key elements of a strong customer experience, the organization, CIO and their teams can determine which technologies are best suited to deliver this experience throughout the customer journey.

Healthcare CIOs: Preparing for the Future

The amount of data required in healthcare is both an opportunity and challenge for CIOs in their efforts to create better user experiences. Big data in healthcare is primed to grow faster than most other industries, driven by advancements in healthcare analytics and imaging technologies. Research shows healthcare data will experience a compound annual growth rate of 36 percent through 2025.

Today’s technology and digital tools are just the beginning of what patients want, and have come to expect, from their healthcare providers. To meet the ever-increasing needs and expectations of patients, healthcare organizations need to stay on top of, if not ahead of, technological advances to help continuously drive a better customer experience.

Leading healthcare organizations are reactively building an ecosystem that enables them to plug- and- play technology as new products and services hit the market. This flexibility allows for scalability. Products can be tested with patients before investing more time and energy in implementing them.

For CIOs, the key is to get a better overall view of your patient, using the correct data points, and then use the information to set up a plug-and-play strategy. In this way healthcare providers can serve their patient in different and better ways over the long run while consistently meeting ever-increasing expectations.

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