The customer journey in healthcare is broken in many ways. The outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted many of these issues from a lack of equitable distribution of services to inconsistent information and testing options.
I recently had the pleasure of discussing the issue on a panel hosted by Aurora Archer and Pamela Raitt of the Bellatrix Group, a consulting firm dedicated to driving change in health and wellness. The rock star line up included Kyana Brathwaite, Founder of KB CALS (Caring Advocacy & Liaison Services), Brendan Gallagher, Chief Connected Health Officer at Publicis Health and Ana Lopez, Sales Leader at Oracle. We tackled many of the core issues and discussed potential paths forward.
The Biggest Challenges – Commitment, Data & Education
The lack of commitment to improve the customer experience in healthcare in the same way organizations like Amazon and Apple live by combined with a lack of education has produced an inconsistent experience and created great disparity for health customers. Healthcare providers often do not have access to or do not leverage the data available to them to provide a better experience to patients. This generally results in repetitive inquiries as nurses, doctors and administrators ask the same questions over and over which takes time and creates frustration. In the worst case scenarios, this can actually result in poor or dangerous treatment options.
From an educational standpoint, simply understanding the costs and value of preventive healthcare or specific treatment or COVID-19 testing options is a major issue. You likely know how much your car or house cost, but even the most educated consumers likely couldn’t tell you how much something like a knee surgery really costs. This lack of transparency and understanding is core to the disparity that exists in providing appropriate healthcare to all.
Has COVID-19 created momentum for change?
One upside to the current pandemic has been the focus it has placed on the inadequacies in our health experience and provided some insight for change. As the battle over the use of face masks has politicized a scientifically necessary countermeasure, it is clear that many turn to media outlets (good or bad) before medical and science professionals. This creates inconsistency in information and, ultimately, poor choices that do not serve the greater good. However, COVID-19 has thrown up a signal to healthcare providers to take a digital first approach and leverage technology and the channels people engage with daily (social media, mobile communities, etc.) as vehicles for connecting with customers. This points to the need for health professionals to be more “customer-centric” which I hope drives real change.
Critical Elements for Change – Data & Organizational Focus on CX
While everyone seems to agree that data is a catalyst to evolve and improve the customer journey in healthcare, I believe this starts with a buy-in and commitment for organizational change where customer experience (CX) is the focus. There are so many examples of this in retail and consumer products from Zappos and Amazon to smaller entities like Warby Parker. Their commitment to serve their customers in the easiest way possible from first touch through purchase, delivery and support is the reason for their collective success. They’re constantly evolving around customer needs and racing to provide more value.
In healthcare, regulation and insurance companies make change challenging, but there are examples in other industries like finance where disruption occurs despite similar obstacles. What’s encouraging is seeing how many people are striving for change. We’ve been approached by several startups in the last year trying to solve various aspects of this larger customer experience problem in health. Services like One Medical that leverage technology and comfort to provide an alternative health experience focused on customer needs are popping up regularly. So, change is on the horizon.
Putting humans back at the center of the health experience is critical for change. Data, communication and buy-in are the path forward, but it starts with treating humans like humans. If you’d like to chat more about CX in healthcare, please contact us. We’re here to help.