from Derek StreetCEO, DexCare
Our world today is more personalized than ever. Most industries are now characterized by personalization, with consumers expecting experiences and results exactly how they want them, when they want them. If retail, hospitality, food service and most other industries can customize experiences based on the wants and needs of their target audiences, why can’t healthcare do the same?
The key drivers of personalization in other industries are also present in healthcare. Consumers everywhere have come to expect convenience, speed, ease of use, affordability and flexibility in all aspects of their experience with product and service providers. In addition, there is an explosion of data about user preferences and choices, what drives satisfaction, what users prioritize in those experiences, and more. These same factors apply to healthcare – patients or consumers want to access care on their terms, and they want it quickly, conveniently and digitally. Over the past several years, changing patient expectations of healthcare experiences have been a key driver of transformative change in the industry perhaps more than anything else.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of data that health systems can and should use to support and respond to these preferences. With nearly one billion doctor office visits in the U.S. each year, health systems have a big opportunity to create more personalized experiences for both patients and providers and significantly improve user satisfaction—they just need the right tools to do it.
The blueprint for creating personalized access to healthcare boils down to four key areas: capturing the data, thinking like a digital marketer in today’s consumer-centric landscape, connecting and aligning your offering, and optimizing experiences. By following the steps outlined below, health systems can deliver care that will improve access, satisfaction, retention, outcomes, and reduce costs for patients, providers, and health systems as a whole.
Being generally data-driven is important for healthcare systems to deliver more personalized, digital healthcare for patients. However, the insights gleaned from one data set in particular are particularly valuable here, and that is the appointment data. There are three main categories that define encounter data: patient intent, clinical requirements, and provider and health system requirements.
Data around patient intent reveals what patients want when they seek care, and clinical requirements are what patients need. Patients’ wants and needs often differ, so it is critical for health systems to consider and respond to both factors. The third category of data requirements, providers, and health systems includes provider capabilities, availability, and health systems goals. Each interaction within a health system then generates encounter data that includes visit length, cost, satisfaction and other metrics. However, not all health systems use it. Health systems are the ones that can access this data, analyze the insights they glean, and apply it to their operational and care delivery processes, which will ultimately create personalized experiences and drive success.
Together, these data paint a picture of the current state of the healthcare system, how efficiently it is working, how intelligently it is using resources, and how well patient expectations are being met. To fully understand patient and provider experiences and how they can be improved and personalized, health systems must be able to capture and apply all of this data.
Think like a digital marketer
Digital marketers are very sophisticated in the way they reach consumers with targeted messages and campaigns. The key to conversion marketing is making it as easy as possible for consumers to become customers and giving them what they need before, during and after a transaction. The same concept should be applied to healthcare.
With more care choices than ever before, access to care should be easy and experiences should be seamless. To begin with, health systems must minimize the number of steps patients need to take to find care. If seeking and finding care is difficult or cumbersome, patients will look elsewhere. Additionally, it should be easy for patients to continue their care journeys and book appointments after the initial appointment. Just as repeated positive consumer interactions with a particular company create brand loyalty, healthcare systems must create an easy, repeatable and continuous process for finding, receiving and returning to healthcare to build patient engagement, satisfaction, retention and trust.
A deep understanding of patient wants, needs, and other customer-centric behaviors is critical to attracting and retaining patients. The patient has more power in their own care journeys and decision-making than ever before, so healthcare systems have no choice but to adapt existing processes to become highly personalized experiences. By thinking like a digital marketer and healthcare leader, providers have the ability to deliver the highest quality patient experience and care.
Linking resource supply to patient demand
Once a health system has created a simple, personalized digital gateway and attracted a patient, the next step is to connect them to the best care option based on the patient’s needs and the overall availability of its own resources and providers. While in the past patients sought an appointment with a specific provider and received a one-on-one appointment, this is not necessarily the most effective structure in all care scenarios. A provider-agnostic model of care may lead to better outcomes when appropriate, whereby the patient is advised to meet with the closest available provider with the care modality, setting, and expertise that best suits the all their needs, and fast. This model benefits patients, providers, and health systems—patients get the high-quality care they need faster, providers can practice at the top of their licenses, and health systems can balance their workloads and make best use of their resources to work more strategically and make care more accessible to more patients.
In addition, the provider-agnostic model enables best-fit care where patients are matched with the ideal care options for them. The most appropriate care means seeing the right provider and having access to the right care settings in the right setting. Using patient, provider and encounter data, health systems can train a machine learning model that can predict outcomes when patients are matched with specific providers. Using data-driven intelligence in this way allows healthcare systems to create matches that will lead to the highest satisfaction, problem resolution rates and other positive outcomes.
Personalization and optimization of the healthcare experience
When health systems maximize the potential and application of their data, they can successfully deliver personalized care. Personalized care results in a visit that not only meets the patient’s needs, but also leads to optimal outcomes in terms of satisfaction, time, and cost, among other metrics. This level of quality care also extends beyond new patients to existing patients in the system. If circumstances or preferences change for a patient already in the process of accessing care, personalized care means that the health system will redirect the patient to an improved provider or modality of care for an optimal experience at any time.
Smart healthcare systems understand the importance of personalizing the healthcare experience for patients. Health systems have no shortage of data between patients, providers, and encounter data—personalized care is the result of strategically and intelligently leveraging these data-driven insights. As the care delivery market continues to expand and become more competitive, meeting consumers where they are and through personalized experiences will play a large role in determining the success of the healthcare system now and moving forward.
The Blueprint for Success with Custom-Tailored Healthcare Access