It should come as no surprise that today’s healthcare consumer is savvier than ever.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “Birth of the Healthcare Consumer” report, in fact, shows empowered consumers are shaking up the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, piece by piece.
“With rising expectations for transparency, value, and customer service, as well as a willingness to seek healthcare service from less traditional sources,” notes PwC, “the healthcare market as we know it is being upended – and the consumer is in the driver’s seat.”
PwC makes the point that such rising consumer expectations create not just opportunities for healthcare organizations but also challenges. In order to succeed in today’s competitive healthcare landscape, in other words, health systems must distinguish themselves in three ways: 1) consumer experience, 2) consumer choice, and 3) consumer engagement.
So how can providers drive robust patient engagement, proactive coordination of care, and overall patient health?
We believe that a big part of this answer lies in a personalized, proactive “engagement center” that goes beyond a “traditional hospital call center” and delivers a unified voice across all consumer touch points (inbound/outbound calls, Web, mobile, social media, live chat, etc.) Only such an engagement center can optimize every prospective patient/patient inquiry and deliver consistent, positive experiences with every interaction.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways this model can drive improved patient experiences, greater consumer choice in healthcare, and increased consumer engagement:
Deliver Holistic, Customer-Centric Experiences
Historically, hospital call centers have focused on basic, repeatable functions, such as appointment scheduling, physician referrals, event enrollment, etc. These traditional call centers have been limited to phone interactions and geared more toward one-off efficiency than overall effectiveness (i.e., ensuring that all patient interactions are centralized and handled with one, personalized interaction, rather than many disjointed interactions).
As a result, patients may have been subjected to long hold times, multiple calls with the same message, and/or bounced around to multiple customer service representatives (CSRs) in order to have their needs addressed. What’s more, with limited insight into patient data (demographics and encounter data from EMR, consumer and household information, marketing response and prior engagement information), CSRs have been unable to anticipate the needs of patients and positively impact the patient experience.
Today’s consumer-centric healthcare landscape, however, demands a more robust, integrated, and personalized engagement center, as stated above. Properly deployed, such an engagement center standardizes patient communication across multiple channels and consumer touchpoints, both engaging prospective patients and supporting the needs and requests of existing patients. Armed with consumer and patient information from a hospital’s CRM system, which synthesizes a variety of consumer and hospital clinical data into a single repository, hospital consumer engagement leaders can develop a 360 degree view of a patient and the patient journey.
The end result?
A customer-centric experience driven by the ability to view a patient’s interactions, needs, and preferences from a “holistic” perspective.
Embrace Consumer Choice & Proactive Health
Beyond providing patients with a customer-centric experience, health systems must also cater to an increasingly empowered healthcare consumer in order to drive patient engagement and influence patient outcomes overall.
Many large retail pharmacies such as CVS are already embracing today’s proactive healthcare consumer by engaging patients earlier with education and personalized outreach, making CVS the top consumer choice for refilling prescriptions, according to one study.
“In an environment of largely dissatisfied consumer healthcare experiences, there is strong evidence that consumers respond positively to empowerment and choice,” notes PwC. “Capturing these consumers and retaining their loyalty from the start can reap dividends in the long term.”
This is where the engagement center once again comes into play.
Healthcare providers need to be able to connect with target groups of individuals across the risk spectrum and deliver meaningful, consistent messages through email, social, web, and call center channels to produce the level and quality of customer experiences needed to drive engagement in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Doing so supports improved outcomes and encourages better adherence to care pathways by reinforcing patients’ personalized care plans, thus extending the providers’ reach beyond just the clinical setting.
One large academic institution is pioneering the future of its health system’s interactions with consumers and patients by implementing several of these engagement center concepts, many as enhancements to an established CRM-based contact center. Through a single integrated platform, this “hub” will support inbound and outbound calls and multiple digital channels — web, mobile, social, and live chat — and create unified patient experiences that drive patient engagement and proactive coordination of care.
Driven by robust patient information and delivered via CRM technology, this leading-edge engagement center positions the institution to pursue and maintain stronger patient relationships and improved patient experiences and outcomes overall.
Drive Improved Patient Satisfaction
The rise in consumer and patient expectations creates the opportunity for healthcare organizations to not only create better patient experiences and relationships, but to also drive increased patient satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction should, in fact, be a top priority for any healthcare organization looking to remain competitive in the market. Research from Becker’s Hospital Review shows 71% of patients would recommend a hospital to family or friends following a positive experience.
A recent Gallup article, however, notes that hospitals must not only meet – but surpass – patient expectations in order to build and maintain patient engagement and loyalty in an era when consumers can shop around for the best value. “To thrive in a consumer-driven environment,” notes Gallup, “healthcare providers must foster the patient-provider relationship, apply strategies for building patient engagement, and [exceed] patient expectations of quality care.”
With patient satisfaction scores now tied to reimbursements (and penalties) in today’s evolving value-based healthcare landscape, patient satisfaction will become even more critical. In response to such marketplace demands, Evariant’s call center solutions can be seamlessly integrated with patient experience platforms to transform patient feedback into actionable insights that can build patient loyalty and improve operational performance overall.
One of the of the nation’s leading and most innovative healthcare organizations is developing a single unified enterprise focused on developing enduring relationships with patients based on superior personalized service and high quality outcomes. By synchronizing all of its customer engagement tactics, the organization can coordinate needs and follow-up interactions with patients across the enterprise (e.g., discharge calls, reminders, outreach, care management), delivering both improved patient experiences and increased patient satisfaction overall.
There’s no doubt about it: Today’s healthcare landscape is experiencing significant shifts in consumer and patient expectations, requiring healthcare systems to respond accordingly. In order to compete in this ever-evolving market, health systems must engage consumers and patients throughout their entire journey with the health system, providing exceptional experiences at every step of the way.
A CRM-driven engagement center can support improved experiences and outcomes by responding to inquiries made via multiple media types, synthesizing this data into a single, unified consumer and patient view. These capabilities will be essential for health systems in addressing these new market experience requirements, helping them fend off and compete against new and more sophisticated market entrants. Additionally, these new capabilities will help health systems pivot between value and volume system goals, attracting profitable patient volume when desired and/or managing populations more effectively through various proactive health initiatives.