Delivering CX in Healthcare: What Do Patients Really Want?
Healthcare is one of the most vital impactors of people’s quality of life. However, it is one of the most highly criticized industries and has undergone many transformations. Digitalization has dramatically impacted the healthcare industry, especially over the past couple of years.
With modern times comes modern challenges, and an ever-changing global backdrop adds to these challenges. For years, access to healthcare was personal and individualized, emphasizing traditional operating procedures like direct and physical interactions. However, due to this evolving global backdrop, patients’ wants, needs, demands, and expectations are changing too.
What Do Patients Want?
In our modern, especially COVID-conscious world, remote and mobile-driven communications are prominent in nearly every developed country; to add to that, about half of the planet uses smartphones. Mobility has quickly become one of modern consumers’ most important desired characteristics. Over one-third of modern consumers check their phone within five minutes of waking up each morning, and over 20% of modern consumers check their phones at least 50 times a day.
This heavy dependence on smartphones has drastically changed the ways consumers interact with businesses. With social media, online shopping, telehealth, mobile banking, and many other remote services, it is no wonder that convenience and mobility are in such high demand. However, with convenient, constant access points to our remote necessities, consumer habits are changing drastically, especially when it comes to modern healthcare.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, telehealth was accelerated to the frontlines of consumers. COVID-19 has brought many challenges pertaining to the well-being of consumers yet has empowered many to take charge of their healthcare, become more involved, and frequently interact with medical professionals. Modern patients, like modern consumers, desire convenience, easy and direct access to their chosen medical professionals, security, and clarity regarding costs and treatments. Current patients increasingly desire digitally-powered health products and services and prefer on-demand patient-provider interactions. Telehealth has made these desires much more of a reality.
The intensified physical limitations (like travel) that the pandemic has also accelerated virtual medical visits. On average, nearly 80% of consumers are likely to schedule virtual visits even after the pandemic has leveled out, simply because of the convenience, confidentiality, and ease of use, among many other benefits.
In order to successfully incorporate technology into the healthcare experience, there needs to be an emphasis on the consumer’s perspective, providing personal experiences just as you would get during an in-person visit, and crafting the entire virtual experience centered around the patient and making them feel more comfortable.
With patient expectations explained, we will dive deeper into current trends regarding customer experience and digitalization.
Three Current CX Trends In Healthcare
#1. AI, Data, and Cloud are Vital Tools for Healthcare Professionals and Patients
The healthcare industry is rapidly changing and recognizes the importance of technology and data collection to improve the customer experience. This year, the top strategy for improving healthcare is to use data and AI to understand and personalize the customer (or patient) experience. As healthcare companies seek to develop more personalized connections with patients, it is a good stepping stone to review past data and patient experiences to better drive health outcomes, limit costs, increase profitability, and enhance patient-provider relationships. The cloud enables all necessary parties to have access to critical data. Omnichannel platforms allow many leaders and team members within the healthcare sector to have access to this data. By utilizing data and AI, the healthcare industry will have more space to focus on delivering a customized patent experience.
The best way for organizations to provide a custom, empathetic patient experience is to learn expectations, needs, and preferences. This means listening via multiple channels, utilizing digital tools and engaging with technology, understanding customers’ intentions, using sentiment analysis, and constantly gathering insights. Greater customer engagement and personalizations come with greater loyalty, advocacy, and profitability.
#2. Digital Interactions are Changing Patient-Provider Relationships
Data within the healthcare industry has grown exponentially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth and traditional healthcare visits have skyrocketed, call and email volumes have risen dramatically, and social web messaging and chat interactions have reached record numbers. Voice and email are the top sources of customer interaction for healthcare businesses, followed by web messaging or chat, video calling, and text messaging.
While video conferencing has been one of the most popular forms of communication over the past few years, chatbots are incredibly effective in meeting customer expectations. Utilizing technology is a great way to manage and meet customer expectations while gaining valuable feedback. Self-service is increasingly becoming the top preference for modern consumers because of its 24/7 availability, yet these self-service portals can also be customized to each individual.
The customer journey and preferences should be healthcare organizations’ top priority. Modern customers like having a wide variety of traditional and digital services. Chatbots are gaining popularity while email and voice remain at the top due to the frequency of use. Healthcare providers must adopt digitalization practices to satisfy and maintain customers.
To further enhance the customer experience, using AI to gather customer intentions and analyze feedback is incredibly beneficial. This can include leveraging customer profiles, prefilling forms or transferring data, and understanding and empathizing with customers in each interaction.
#3. CX Workforce Management is a Major Challenge for Healthcare
Staffing has long been an issue for healthcare organizations but has been increasingly prevalent during COVID-19. Beyond customer experience representatives who have been managing their own personal situations with the pandemic, they are also handling the uptake in customer interactions and added stressors due to this high turnover rate. Simultaneously, the pandemic has proven that service providers play a critical role in crafting positive customer experiences. Modern healthcare providers are expected to provide exquisite medical care and incorporate speed, security, clarity, and accuracy while remaining empathetic.
Many healthcare organizations have had to increase their contact center representatives drastically and can expect to grow that number even more. Healthcare organizations must invest in proper workforce training, quality management, workforce optimization tools, and engagement tactics with new employees.
An organization’s customer service representatives are one of your business’s first contact points. Companies need to empower their employees, know how valuable they are, and train them properly. This can include agent assistance technologies, real-time assistance, and prompts to assist them. Quality management and workforce optimization tools are also instrumental in training and beyond. They offer deeper insights into performance and customer engagement while diminishing lengthy administrative tasks.
Evolving customer expectations, telehealth, and the desire for increased engagement and convenience are changing the healthcare landscape. The vast benefits include reducing costs, lessening pressure on healthcare providers, and increasing safety. However, the most significant benefit of this evolving landscape is improved patient outcomes by increasing engagement. Patients desire consistent, clear communication regarding their health and care.
In short, modern technology is revolutionizing healthcare. The patient-provider relationship is improving, the customer experience is changing, and data is being collected to improve customer satisfaction constantly. The customer experience can be enhanced by collecting and analyzing data pertaining to the customer experience and their desires and personalized patient experiences.