While today’s consumer has higher expectations across all industries, the recent rise within the healthcare sector represents a dramatic shift in attitude from previous decades. For years, consumers had fewer choices and less control over their healthcare experience, often just accepting an “it is what it is” mentality. A recent Bain & Company survey reveals that 65% of today’s healthcare consumers expect a more convenient experience, while 70% expect more responsiveness from providers compared with how they felt just three years ago (Brookshire et al., 2022). Healthcare consumers have spoken loud and clear; whether it is long hold times, difficulty scheduling appointments, a lack of price transparency, or simply not feeling appreciated as a customer, they expect more from their healthcare provider.
An increased set of expectations is part of the natural evolution of “healthcare consumerism,” a phrase first introduced in the 1990s but has gained significant steam over the past five years.
However, with the introduction of a healthcare marketplace that enables more consumer choice and higher out-of-pocket costs, healthcare consumers are demanding experiences similar to what they receive in the hospitality, airline, or e-commerce industries. If the quality of services does not meet their expectations, they have shown they will move on to another provider.
The healthcare industry has responded to healthcare consumerism by implementing technologies that make it easier for patients to shop for Healthcare. Price transparency tools, for example, let patients know how much their Healthcare will cost before receiving services, an issue that has long challenged the industry. Call center technologies, online appointment scheduling, digital bill pay, and payment plans have also improved as healthcare organizations continue toward consumer-centered services.
However, the industry has a long way to go. A Kaufman Hall survey showed that although more than 80% of hospital leaders agree that healthcare consumerism is important, 88% recognize they are vulnerable to new market players with a proven track record of driving consumer experiences.
How can the healthcare industry work to improve this?
Step 1: Map your patients’ journeys. Mapping a journey built from the outside in, based on customer preferences, is vital. The previously referenced Bain & Company report says it well. “Consider how your customer journey looks today and how it could look in the future. Which aspects of the experience could become competitive differentiators? While the details of the journey are unique to each provider, there are consistent elements across organizations, such as finding and accessing care, paying a bill, or receiving ongoing care support, to name a few. By benchmarking against competitors, providers can identify gaps and opportunities. As they evaluate these opportunities, it’s important to consider evolving healthcare trends, such as digital transformation or alternative sites and channels of care.” (Brookshire et al., 2022, p. 1) We agree.
2. Let Customers Define Their Journey: Once your customer journey is mapped, it is imperative to let the consumer define their journey. A truly customer-centric approach is built on the understanding that each customer is different. Despite a growing acceptance of self-service tools, there remains an overwhelming desire to deal with live agents. At Servicing Solutions, we rely on our automated tools to handle routine requests, but the option to speak to a human is always available. That is something we will never abandon.
3. Don’t Fall Victim To Staffing Challenges: A recent poll by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) cites staffing as the overwhelming, leading concern (ahead of key issues such as expense management, revenue, and technology) for the industry as we head into 2023. Considering the complexity of healthcare staffing—doctors, nurses, certified support, and diagnostic professionals, for example—healthcare companies are well-advised to focus on those disciplines and leave the acquisition and retention of customer experience talent to experts in this field. BPOs like Servicing Solutions assume all the heavy lifting and risk associated with hiring, training, and attrition, allowing clients to focus on their more specialized and industry-specific workforce.
Ready to create a healthcare customer experience that rivals more “traditional” consumer industries? We can help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookshire, M., Weisbrod, J., & Ney, E. (2022, November 4). It’s time to elevate the patient experience in Healthcare. Bain. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.bain.com/insights/its-time-to-elevate-the-patient-experience-in-healthcare/