What It Takes to Meet Consumer Expectations in Healthcare
Today’s web savvy consumers accustomed to booking their holidays, accessing banking services and shopping online have come to value the same level of service when choosing a healthcare provider. The question is how well are we meeting these consumer expectations?
In 2012 PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) analyzed data from its Customer Experience Radar, a survey of 6,000 consumers across nearly a dozen industries. It found that in many respects consumer expectations in healthcare track closely with other industries. Convenience and speed are high on the list whether purchasing clothing or choosing a doctor.
But the survey also found that healthcare differs in several important areas; most notably, that patients are more apt to vocalize their dissatisfaction than unhappy retail customers. They are also less inclined to report positive interactions (when it comes to sharing good experiences, 70% of consumers share in retail, while 54% share in the healthcare provider industry). A second notable difference was that price was the top influencer in buying for all industries except healthcare, where personal experience and recommendation ranked first for 42% of the consumers surveyed. 1
Creating a positive customer experience is a multi-layered process that begins with gathering insight into consumers’ wants and needs. Gathering individual definitions of good experiences starts the process of that understanding. Healthcare providers should follow the lead of retail companies and adopt more digital and user-friendly channels to generate and capture feedback fast. Comments and issues should be acted on quickly – social media facilitates timely feedback and response times.
Individuals trust their past experience and rely on personal networks to make healthcare decisions, particularly in provider selection (72% of consumers ranked provider reputation and personal experience as the top drivers of provider choice).2 Personal experience in choosing a doctor or hospital is 2.6 times more important than other industries and peer recommendations are twice as important.3 Creating online discussion forums to discuss health and wellness issues builds consumer trust and engagement.
When it comes to seeking primary health services, millennials (a demographic commonly defined as aged 18-34) prefer to engage with their providers through digital channels. A survey by Salesforce 4 released this month found that:
- 60% of millennials are interested in using telehealth options (e.g., video chat with a doctor) so they don’t have to come into the office for an appointment;
- 71% of millennials would be interested in a doctor/provider giving them a mobile app on their smartphone/tablet to actively manage their well-being for preventative care, review health records, schedule appointments;
- 63% of millennials would be interested in proactively providing their health data from Wifi/wearable devices to their doctor/provider so they can monitor their well-being.
While traditional communication channels still remain popular among patients, the next generation want to connect with providers and share information in more innovative ways. To engage with this demographic, healthcare providers will need to embed more social and mobile technologies into their practices.
As patients behave more like consumers, their service expectations are expanding to include non-clinical elements such as mobile check-in, digital appointments and reminders. Implementing a comprehensive patient portal solution can also improve clinical workflows, service delivery and ultimately patient outcomes through features such as post-discharge education, communicating lab results and allowing patients to ask questions directly to their care team over a secure messaging platform.
Meeting consumer expectations with one secure portal solution, using mobile technologies that patients are familiar with, will enhance the user experience, create customer loyalty and provide a return on investment for the healthcare provider.
- PwC 2012 Customer Experience Radar Research
- Salesforce 2015 State Of The Connected Patient