Entertainment, hospitality, financial planning and aviation have important ideas for improving the member and patient experience.

By Medecision

At times, the healthcare industry has lagged behind its peers in adapting to changing times. For instance, many healthcare organizations have maintained their traditional ways of doing business while other industries focused increasingly on rethinking their methods to become more customer-centric. When the pandemic hit, however, healthcare providers quickly adjusted their techniques to start providing care via telephone, video and other convenient, customer-focused approaches. Eighteen months later, about 40% of surveyed consumers believe they will continue to use telehealth going forward—up from 11% of consumers using telehealth before COVID-19, according to McKinsey.

Rather than waiting until a change is forced upon them, healthcare organizations can be proactive about tweaking and improving their business models. Plenty of examples from other industries can serve as inspiration. Consider these four ideas for improvement that have worked in other industries and could translate successfully to healthcare.

Create an Intuitive Digital Experience

Healthcare can learn important lessons from the entertainment industry about how to provide intuitive digital experiences for members and patients, according to U.S. News & World Report. Today’s healthcare consumers are accustomed to logging into Netflix or Amazon Prime, where they have personal profiles automatically populated with relevant suggestions for them individually. They can access these profiles on their smartphones, TVs, computers and tablets, and they can easily find receipts for past purchases and reviews from other consumers for various products.

Forty-nine percent of healthcare consumers say they wish their digital experience with healthcare providers was smoother and more like the ease with which they can interact with companies like Netflix, one study found. The same study showed that more than one-fourth of patients changed providers because of a poor digital experience during the pandemic.

Those statistics reveal the urgency of adopting more robust digital experiences. Like the entertainment companies, healthcare organizations are seeing the need to access historical data and use artificial intelligence and third-party software solutions to design experiences and care journeys that are tailored to their patients’ preferences and can predict a consumer’s needs or interests based on past interactions.

Pamper Your Guests to Improve Member and Patient Experience

The hospitality industry views its customers as guests, and healthcare companies could benefit by adopting the same viewpoint. Today’s healthcare consumers have options and more latitude in selecting their providers and health insurance plans than in years past, and those organizations must create inviting experiences to attract consumers and build loyalty.

Like hotels, hospitals can focus on improving the patient experience by providing top-notch customer service and by prioritizing foodservice. For instance, hospitals have a reputation for serving “bad” food, but they can make a major impression by flipping that expectation on its head. Serving choices that are appealing, healthy and homemade can promote satisfaction, comfort and healing, as well as make patients feel more like guests than customers. “Through foodservice, hospital administrators have an opportunity to increase the satisfaction of patients, employees and the community, while helping their bottom line,” Becker’s Hospital Review reports.

Relatedly, health plans can prioritize member experience by increasing the use of technology that helps consumers manage their health conditions when and where they need it. By using sophisticated analytics, payers can gain a deeper understanding of member behavior in order to identify opportunities to engage with those members at the right time with tailored approaches.

Turn Services Into Products

Traditionally, the financial planning industry provided planning services for its clients. Customers had to make appointments with their financial advisers, usually on an annual basis, and sit through a face-to-face financial checkup. Advisers would talk to them about any progress or setbacks that had happened since their last meeting, and help them rebalance their portfolios for the coming year.

That process of providing services likely sounds familiar to healthcare industry professionals, but it’s no longer the only service option in the financial industry. The financial industry, led by financial technology firms, reimagined its services and, in many cases, turned them into products.

For example, today, rather than meeting annually or quarterly with an adviser, investors can purchase target-date funds, which automatically reallocate based on the age of the investor. Investors can also use robo-advisers, which are often guided by human advisers but provide their services automatically, at a fraction of the cost. Similarly, the healthcare industry could collaborate with tech companies to help provide consumers with equipment that allows them to monitor their own conditions rather than scheduling appointments and traveling to meet with providers or care managers in person. Providers and health plans can play a more supervisory role, following consumer behavior and providing guidance along the way.

Focus on Systemic Safety

While the healthcare industry records hundreds of thousands of medical errors each year, resulting in great loss of life and injury, the aviation industry has relatively few safety incidents. Healthcare could improve patient safety by creating a more systematic approach to safety.

For example, the aviation industry has a strong safety culture, and rather than blaming individuals when accidents happen, the industry focuses on finding what’s wrong with the system. In addition, the industry has governing national and international bodies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, which sets and enforces guidelines, increasing consistency across the entire field. Also, a no-fault reporting system for accidents and errors makes it easy for employees to file confidential reports so the industry can continuously improve.

Healthcare could learn from aviation, establishing standard safety rules across hospitals and specialties and using accident reports as opportunities to improve the system.

There are many opportunities to look beyond the healthcare industry for ideas to improve the consumer experience, creating engaged health consumers and positive behavior changes.

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