In its “2016 Technology Imperatives for U.S. Healthcare Providers” report, Forrester discusses the “Age of the Customer”—the idea that empowered customers are shaping business strategy as they expect consistent and high-value in-person and digital experiences. For the healthcare industry, the Age of the Customer has had a significant impact:
1. An increased focus on patient engagement
If you really want patients engaged in their own care, you need to care about the experience they are receiving. This is especially important for those patients with chronic conditions because of the complexity and cost of their care. Does their doctor actually explain things well and give patients an experience that keeps them coming back? In other industries, brands have been focused on differentiating themselves by the customer experience they provide. Think Zappos and Disney—these organizations focus on creating experiences because it keeps customers coming back. The same can be true for healthcare organizations.
In addition, regulations are part of the equation and CMS has linked reimbursement to healthcare quality. Patient experience in 2016 is 25% of the total Value-Based Purchasing, which is the evaluation strategy that CMS is using to incent hospitals to improve the quality of care. This can affect Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements by 1% up to 2% in 2017 based on the experience of patients.
2. A requirement to provide interaction with patients where they want it
Patients want to receive interactions with their doctor or clinician the same way they can interact with their bank, whether that be through social channels, SMS text, web chat, email or voice. If you can confirm your hair appointment by text you should be able to confirm your doctor appointment by text. For certain types of appointments, patients want “virtual care” options that can help them spend less time waiting. Offering web chat is another option that other industries are offering and provides an additional way to connect when calling is not preferred.
3. Increased competition
Healthcare providers used to only be concerned about the hospital across the street or the physician practice across the street, but now they competing with retail pharmacies offering primary care, urgent care facilities, and even “Doc-on-Call” or Teledoc providing remote patient consult services. As a physician you need to care about your patients as consumers and try and attract them to receive services from you. As a hospital you care about attracting customers who are your patients and have even had to hire Chief Marketing Officers or at least put more of an emphasis on this role and the impact that marketing can have on the business of healthcare.
Please attend the “Engaged Patient” webinar hosted by Windstream featuring Forrester analyst Kate McCarthy to learn more. More details and a registration link can be found on the webinar registration page: The Empowered Patient: Preparing for a New Age of the Healthcare Customer.