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Just What the Doctor Ordered

  • January 2014
  • 8 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 2005752

Summary

Table of Contents

Leveraging the Power of Communications Technology to Improve Healthcare Customer Engagement

Years of focus on healthcare reform coupled with the prolonged economic downturn has put pressure on healthcare organizations to figure out how to make changes with scant resources. However, when it comes to customer engagement within the healthcare space, positive developments are proceeding apace. Not only is the level of service improving steadily, but so too is change impacting the relationship between patients and service providers. This Frost & Sullivan Market Insight focuses on the role communication and contact center technology plays within these dynamics. It also assesses how service providers are changing both their mindset and internal policies to address the patient-provider relationship.

The Changing Healthcare Landscape

The healthcare market in North America is changing dramatically, fueled by the state of the economy and healthcare reform. At the core of this reform is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which is creating a fundamental shift in the way that healthcare providers offer care and relate to patients. The ACA is based on the idea that the US pays more than any other nation for healthcare, yet doesn't get better results than other industrialized nations. It seeks to change the incentive structure for doctors, hospitals, and insurance carriers from a fee-for services system to one based on wellness. At the core of this philosophical shift is a sea-change in the relationship between patients and healthcare providers, in the way that patients think about receiving care.

This paradigm shift will involve fundamental changes in the interplay between people, processes, and technology within healthcare organizations. In effect, organizational strategies must take into account how employee engagement and technology can work together to improve patient relationships and outcomes while lowering costs.

Personalization – Communication – Decentralization – Collaboration

As with any industry, today's healthcare organizations – from insurance carriers to and a wide breadth of service providers including small doctor's offices and large hospitals and medical centers with multiple networked branches – own a mix of legacy and new infrastructure and applications that are often siloed and not integrated. Within this busy panorama, Frost & Sullivan sees pockets of innovation, organizational change, and cases where new and legacy technologies are combined in support of personalization, communication, decentralization, and collaboration in patient care. Such developments must keep pace with an array of customer care trends, from the "voice of the customer," to "voice of the employee" and multi-channel and omni-channel customer engagement and proactive customer contact (PCC). Consider the following case studies:

• From One-Size-Fits-All to Personalized Medicine
Healthcare providers serve all segments of the population, a breadth of patient types. Patients vary in age, level of education, income level, language skills, and access to and willingness to use technology. Clearly, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to customers, healthcare providers should deploy technology in a way that personalizes service.

For instance, IVR applications can be designed to address patients in their preferred language or present menu options pertinent to what the patient is calling about, as analytics help gain a unified picture of the patient. Proactive customer contact (PCC), whether it be through email, voice, or text, can engage patients and pre-empt their need to call into a provider (PCC applications include prescription refill, wellness checks, medication reminders, pre-surgical care procedures, and wellness reminders for annual flu shot or diagnostic tests).

• From Provider - Centric to Patient-Centric

Healthcare organizations are becoming more patient-centric. Providers are focusing on enabling easier access to information through mobile apps, patient portals, email, and inroom devices. In addition, specialized service is now available at the point-of-need. For instance, if a patient comes into a hospital and needs a translator, an outbound call can be routed to a translator fluent in the patient's primary language. This can significantly improve the outcome of the patient visit, cutting down on patient wait time and frustration, and physician errors.

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