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Healthcare organizations must reimagine the patient experience to thrive

September 03, 2021
Business Affairs Health IT
Greg Miller
By Greg Miller

Digital technology has given consumers more choices than ever before, and with those choices have come growing expectations for a superior customer experience. When those consumers are patients – in need of care and help managing their health – the expectations for a seamless and helpful experience are even higher.

A survey of nearly 700 patients released in early 2021, shows that patient expectations continue to climb. Two-thirds (67%) of patients surveyed said even one poor customer experience would negatively impact their loyalty to a healthcare organization.

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Clearly healthcare providers and payers have little margin for error in how they interact with patients. Yet not all healthcare organizations are able to provide a unified, modern experience across the entire patient journey. Many systems and workflows in healthcare remain siloed, including contact centers and newer tools, like chatbots. Indeed, 63% of patient survey respondents said their provider is not capable of delivering an excellent experience in a completely digital way. If what these healthcare consumers believe is accurate, this means their providers are more likely than not to lose business because they aren’t delivering a patient experience (PX) that meets today’s standards.

PX means far more than clinical care. It encompasses every interaction a healthcare consumer has with a healthcare organization, at every touchpoint, throughout the patient journey. Patients tend to judge the entire healthcare system based on each experience in the journey. To deliver a great PX, organizations must get every touchpoint right – there can be no siloes or “dropped balls.”

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wakeup call for many providers accelerating the adoption of virtual care and digital tools. These providers are increasingly aware that a superior PX isn’t just good business, it’s a matter of survival. (Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, calls this “healthcare’s Amazon moment.”) There has also been a renewed focus on the teams and technologies that form the hub of patient experience before, between, and after clinical encounters: the contact center. Besides canvassing patients, the survey also includes data from more than 160 healthcare PX professionals that points to the emerging role of contact centers as a critical tool for driving better PX:

● 88% agree that contact centers are a meaningful contributor to their PX strategies
● 81% agree contact centers have an impact on PX today (a number that is expected to exceed 90% over the next two years)
● 68% say positioning the contact center as a strategic asset is a top priority of their organizations

It’s no longer enough, however, for contact centers to only support patient communication by phone. The survey demonstrates that 78% of patients surveyed want more options for communicating with their healthcare organizations.

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