It starts with digital: creating a new patient experience

Healthcare standards are changing, and these changes are putting patients firmly in the driver’s seat. For patients, healthcare is critical, and maintaining a high standard of care not only is imperative for well-being and comfort, it can often be the difference between life and death.

Given this, The industry is moving towards the value-based approach, where success is defined by the quality of care and subsequent HCAHPS patient survey scores. This shift away from pay-per-service care means that healthcare systems must focus on ongoing patient health and the overall outcome of treatment, especially if they want to get paid.

For providers, the stakes are high, and they must cultivate patient loyalty and satisfaction throughout the entire experience because any missteps can result in lost revenue as well as patient discomfort and, ultimately, dissatisfaction.

There is massive opportunity for providers to exceed expectations and build patient loyalty through a connected experience, and that experience starts with digital.

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High-deductible health plans mean that patients are spending more out of pocket for healthcare services, and they want value and a great experience if they’re going to put their lives in the hands of doctors or medical staff all while parting with their hard-earned dollars.

Statistics show that 67% of customers say that a poor experience is what led them to do business elsewhere and, in healthcare, that number may be worse. In fact, unhappy patients are more likely to switch doctors as a result of a poor experience than they are to switch airlines – and that’s saying something.

Consumers demand a better experience across all channels from the brands they do business with, and now patients are requiring the same kinds of personalised experiences from their healthcare providers.

A connected, personalised patient experience

While a successful value-based approach considers the actual treatment prescribed by doctors or nurses on staff, that can’t be the only focus. It’s impossible to truly improve overall care only by looking at in-person interactions.

Quality care starts from the initial point of contact, and that point of contact happens long before a patient ever sets foot into a waiting room.

Patients may research potential providers online using either their computers or mobile devices, and they may call and speak with a nurse practitioner in lieu of an appointment or talk to someone in the office before their first appointment.

With each interaction, patients are providing information that is critical to bettering in-person care. For service providers, failing to capture that information the first time is like a doctor ignoring a patient’s symptoms because those symptoms aren’t present at the time of the appointment.

Just like the human body is connected and it needs comprehensive care, the new patient journey must be personalised, connected and comprehensive in order to meet expectations – and that journey begins with a digital hub.

Creating a digital hub

A digital hub offers comprehensive online services for patients to research and interact with providers. By creating an experience that’s personal, simple, and effective, provider websites are ripe with opportunity to win patient loyalty from the beginning.

Through the creation of user profiles and segmentation, providers can begin to understand what patients are searching for, how they’re interacting and, most importantly, what they want.

With this information, providers can curate and personalise site content and services around the needs of patients rather than patients adapting to their antiquated models. If patients sense that providers are listening from the start, they’ll be more engaged and loyal before they even set foot into the doctor’s office.

Kaiser Permanente was an early adopter of the digital hub, and the portal now allows patients to access portions of their health records, communicate with physicians, and receive personalised information about healthcare.

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Now, patients can even video conference with physicians through their mobile app, offering increased access to personalised healthcare. Not only has patient adoption of the portal been high, an internal study showed that nine out of ten patients with chronic conditions felt that the portal helped them better manage their health conditions.

Recently, Kaiser was recently given top ratings for customer experience in the healthcare industry, indicating that the digital hub approach has been a success.

For Samaritan Health, a digital hub was exactly what they needed to better serve the 290,000 residents in their region of Oregon. They created a place where both prospective and current patients could book wellness classes, file health insurance claims, and even schedule onsite gym visits.

They created profiles for their users to better understand their customer base and implemented a content creation engine to deliver personalised content to those users. Now, everyone, from job seekers to patients, receives tailored content, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Not only have sales leads and customer conversions increased, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores are higher and patient churn has decreased.

Connecting the online and offline journeys

Creating a digital hub is an important first step, but the information gleaned across digital channels is even more valuable when viewed in context of the in-person experience. In order to really understand patient needs and provide the best possible care, providers must connect the two.

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For example, nothing is more frustrating for patients than filling out an information form online, only to have to redo that questionnaire when they arrive for their appointment. However, if that information is analysed beforehand and triaged to the right person who is ready and waiting to consult with the patient when s/he walks in the door, it can change a potentially annoying experience to the beginning of a great relationship.

Sunrise Senior Living offers multiple care options for elderly people who are no longer capable of fully taking care of themselves. The decision to place a loved one in a care facility is emotional and complex, and customers often research these complexities online prior to contacting a company representative.

To ease that journey, Sunrise Senior Living created the Care Questionnaire to help direct prospects to the right community pages, and their answers assigned them an online persona that customised content and directed them the online resources that reflected care needs.

Care Questionnaire information was linked to next steps, such as a visit to a local community, and on-site site staff members were prepared with Care Questionnaire information to avoid duplicate questioning. Since the implementation of the program, 67 percent of all leads have become move-in opportunities.

The future of healthcare is about cultivating patient loyalty and developing successful treatment plans, and that success hinges on the merging of the digital and physical worlds into a great patient experience.

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When healthcare providers truly know their patients and provide that personalised experience, their patients will feel more connected and engaged, which will lead to better relationships and better overall treatment.

With improved treatment comes improved patient loyalty as well as higher HCAHPS scores, which allows providers to get paid for the services they offer. As healthcare continues to change and patients hold more power, providers must create the new patient experience to ensure future success.


Sourced by Scott Anderson, CMO at Sitecore


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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