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Blog

Oct 19, 2016

The Changing Customer Experience, Part 7: New Trends in Healthcare

Categories:
Customer Experience

doctor reviewing CX trends in healthcare

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

Most healthcare providers don't think of themselves as being in the business of customer service—or even see their patients as customers in the first place. But liquid expectations are encouraging consumers to demand the same exceptional customer experience they enjoy in almost every other industry. Healthcare is finally joining the “Age of the Customer.”

Here are four CX trends that healthcare industry providers need to be aware of:

1. Technology is being incorporated into every aspect of patient care

Consumers have become more comfortable with using technology in every other area of their lives, so it’s no surprise that they’re starting to look for it in healthcare as well.

Communication with Providers

Most people have gotten used to virtual communication like talking to loved ones on FaceTime, messaging with customer service, and even working remotely. In-person is no longer a requirement of feeling connected, and that trend has made its way to the healthcare sector.

According to Cisco, 70% of consumers are comfortable with the idea of communicating with doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person, particularly when it comes to the following information:

  • Weight (28%)
  • Sleep patterns (26%)
  • Exercise/physical activity (25%)
  • Symptoms/general health complaints (25%)
  • Nutritional information (20%)
  • Vital signs (15%)

Remote Patient Care

More than 60% of consumers are comfortable with the idea of being treated by a specialist using virtual technology. Today’s focus on shorter hospital stays with rigorous follow-through lends itself to remote patient care.

In addition, 20% of Americans live in rural areas without easy access to primary care or specialist services, and 80 million live in an area with too few mental health providers. Even in large cities, many patients find it difficult to get to the doctor’s office.

Provider Perspective

In many ways, telemedicine benefits providers as well, helping doctors meet demands for servicing more patients. Two-thirds of healthcare professionals named virtual care as a top priority in 2016, up 10% from the previous year.

Video appointments are a time-effective option for individuals managing a known condition, for quickly determining the need for a specialist, and for identifying emergencies that require immediate treatment.

But remote patient care has one major downside for hospitals and physicians: lost revenue.

  • 44% of consumers are likely to have an ECG at home using a device attached to their phone, with results sent wirelessly to their physician, which represents a potential loss of $2.9 billion to providers.
  • 43% are likely to have a pacemaker or defibrillator checked at home wirelessly by a physician, for a potential loss of $110 million
  • 42% are likely to do a urinalysis test at home with a device attached to their phone, for a potential loss of $694 million  

2. Consumers are dissatisfied…

While almost every other industry has joined the “Age of the Customer,” healthcare is still lagging behind. Because the bulk of payment for each service comes from an insurance company or government program, many providers don’t view patients as their customers. The result has been consumers who feel powerless and resigned to being regularly disappointed with the service they receive: less than half of patients are satisfied with their overall consumer experience.

But with the rise of high-deductible plans, consumers feel more like paying customers—even if providers don’t see it yet—and are demanding the star treatment they get from other industries. They don’t want to wait weeks to get an appointment, days for lab results, or even minutes on hold with a contact center. They expect a level of convenience similar to what’s available in retail and banking. And if they don’t get it? That’s what social media is for!

“Now the shakeup is coming to healthcare and the sector is moving toward the traditional economic principles that govern other industries. Market forces such as robust competition, revenue based on results, and the notion that customer is king, will play a greater role in the health and wellness space.” -Health Research Institute

3. …and healthcare providers are reacting

Successful providers already recognize that the status quo isn’t enough. Consulting firm Strategy& predicts that the ultimate winners in the industry will be those firms that distinguish themselves in three ways: consumer choice, consumer engagement, and consumer experience.

The primary drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty are:

  • Trusted advice
  • Simplicity, convenience, and seamlessness
  • Value
  • Brand
  • Personalization
  • Technology/digitization

Patients want to trust the advice their doctors give them, and see data that backs it up. They want streamlined experiences with less paperwork and bureaucracy, price transparency, and the technology options we discussed above. And they want to be treated as individuals who deserve better than one-size-fits-all service.

“Consumers today are savvier and more skeptical, have more options for managing their health, and expect their individual preferences to be met.” -Jaime Estupiñán, Strategy& Partner

4. New players are a threat to traditional providers

These high levels of customer dissatisfaction have created an opportunity for new entrants into the industry: 40% of consumers say they’d trust large retailers like Walmart or Target to manage their health, and 33% say they’d trust Google or Amazon to deliver their healthcare, primarily because they believe those companies can provide quality care and core benefits at a lower cost.

The potential for disruption is extremely high: consumers are dissatisfied and associate these brands with the exceptional customer experiences currently lacking in healthcare. And don’t forget that all four companies have changed the landscape of multiple industries already. Each one is a force to be reckoned with.

Over 80% of consumers say they’re open to trying new, non-traditional ways of seeking medical attention and treatment. And the specific scenarios they see as possibilities have the potential to take billions of dollars of revenue away from doctors and hospitals:

  • 49% are likely to have a wound or pressure sore treated at a clinic in a retail store or pharmacy, which represents a potential loss of $796 million
  • 26% are likely to have dialysis at such a clinic, for a potential loss of $1.9 billion
  • 34% are likely to get an MRI there, for a potential loss of $11.6 billion

How Astute Can Help

With Astute's smart consumer engagement software, you can provide the seamless, personalized, omni-channel experience customers have come to expect from other industries and are starting to demand from you. To learn more about our products and how they can help, watch our two-minute intro video.

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