Five shifts healthcare organizations need to make to be more consumer-centric

Consumers today have unprecedented power. Yet, while most industries are shifting their focus toward delivering more meaningful and valuable consumer experiences, healthcare continues to lag behind.

In fact, an alarming 81 percent of consumers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience.

Although that percentage is eye-popping, it is hardly shocking. Anyone who has interacted with the healthcare industry is familiar with its faults: insurance plans full of jargon, long wait times for appointments and procedures, bills that arrive in the mail months after a visit, and a lack of coordination between physicians, insurers and pharmacies.

Historically, healthcare organizations haven’t had an imperative to empower and engage consumers. Consumers didn’t expect it and organizations’ livelihood was not dependent on it. But now that the shift to consumer centricity is inevitable; healthcare organizations are feeling extreme pressure to put the consumer first.

For its latest report, “Making the Shift: Healthcare’s Transformation to Customer-Centricity,” Prophet conducted interviews with more than 50 executives from providers, payers and pharmaceutical companies around the world, including Mayo Clinic, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pfizer and Novartis, among others. From those conversations, Prophet identified five key shifts, summarized below, that healthcare organizations need to make to become more consumer-centric.

1 – Shift from Tactical Fixes to Experience Strategy

While organizations often start enhancing consumer experiences in one-off initiatives (i.e. reducing waiting room times), they should be working to optimize the entire healthcare journey.

Most of people’s lives, even if they are managing a chronic condition, are not spent in direct contact with the healthcare industry. Organizations mistakenly deprioritize these moments, even though people are actively engaged in activities related to their health. The chart below details the full consumer journey healthcare organizations must consider.

HC Fig15

To keep consumers engaged along the entire journey, healthcare organizations must elevate the consumer experience to a strategic priority. This means establishing a vision for the organization, hiring the right leaders, building internal CX capabilities and creating a step-by-step plan for enacting change.

2 – Shift from Fragmented Care to Connected Ecosystems

Although payers, providers and pharmaceutical companies are finding new ways to work together, the healthcare journey is still fragmented for most patients, causing frustration and system-wide inefficiencies.

Matt Gove, Chief Consumer Officer at Piedmont Healthcare, said in his interview, “Consistently, there is a lack of coordination and cooperation. None of the big silos are working together in any meaningful way. We are pursuing our own goals.”

But consumer-centric organizations explore how to make experiences easier for consumers, then figure out how to deliver – either by building capabilities internally or by partnering with other companies.

Healthcare organizations must follow suit. Geisinger Health and Intermountain are two examples of organizations that have made this shift, but they are still in the minority. The only way for those in the healthcare value chain to survive and thrive in the future is to think of themselves as part of a healthcare ecosystem, instead of a stand-alone entity.

3 – Shift from Population-Centric to Person-Centered

Instead of creating products, services, and experiences for groups of similar consumers, such as those who have the same condition or fall into the same demographic, healthcare organizations should personalize their offerings based on a consumer’s individual motivations, health status and preferences. Experiences should be designed to be relevant to the patient’s individual lifestyle needs.

To do this, healthcare organizations must start with a better understanding of various patient profiles, and how best to engage them. This requires getting to know consumers beyond their demographics, and exploring their needs and attitudes towards health.

Novant Health is a great example of an organization that has made significant strides in providing person-centered care. It invested in targeted data collection to help it become smarter, more intuitive and more agile in how it delivers experiences to different consumer segments, not entire populations. These insights have led it to introduce numerous new products and services that have expanded patient access and provided more cost clarity for the organization.

4 - Shift from Incremental Improvements to Pervasive Innovation

Instead of settling for small improvements to already established systems and processes, companies should think bigger, reimagining how they approach innovation within their organization.

Taking a cue from the tech industry, healthcare organizations should adopt a business strategy known as the minimal viable product (MVP). This means, instead of waiting until a product is perfect, an organization will release it as version 1.0 and then continue to make updates until it is final.

Advocate Health used the MVP approach to increase access and convenience for consumers. Understanding that an overhaul of its entire scheduling system would be a complicated and time-consuming process, it started in just one area with a project called “Call Today, Be Seen Today,” which allowed same-day scheduling for mammograms. When the system experienced double-digit growth, it expanded the initiative to include same-day results as well. That success gave Advocate the confidence to move forward with similar offerings for all its appointments.

Boehringer Ingelheim, a large German pharmaceutical company, took another tact. It created a separate entity, a digital innovation lab called BI X, to drive innovation in a new and more agile environment. BI X operates like a start-up, and works closely with all the business units in the company.

By taking smart business risks, healthcare organizations can be bold without sacrificing the safety and efficacy measures that are imperative on the clinical side.

5 – Shift from Insights as a Function to a Culture of Consumer Obsession

Establishing insights as a function within an organization is critical to gathering intelligence on consumers, but it’s not enough. Healthcare organizations need to create a culture of consumer obsession, where everyone in the organization places the consumer front-and-center at all times. Organizations can do this by building an Insights Operating System (IOS).

An IOS helps organizations move from simply gathering data to infusing the right data, insights, and analytics into every decision. It enables an organization to continuously update products, programs and experiences so it can satisfy changing consumer expectations.

Creating an Insights Operating System can be accomplished by:

1. Building a “consumer intelligence engine,” which generates the insights, data and analytics needed to fuel decision making

HC Fig54

2. Establishing repeatable processes to gather and share insights across business units and service lines

3. Building an internal culture of consumer obsession

Becoming a truly consumer-centric organization in the healthcare industry is no easy feat. It requires hard work, and progress can often seem slow. But the rewards of making these shifts are well worth the struggle, and will better the healthcare industry for patients, physicians, governments and other stakeholders.

To learn more about the five shifts healthcare organizations need to make to become more customer centric, read Prophet’s full report here.

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