Guest Column | March 9, 2020

Applying Retail Principles To Healthcare Can Improve Patient Engagement

By Matt Henry, Point B

Doctor Patient Engagement

Like other industries, healthcare is evolving to deliver in a digital world. High deductible plans and greater out-of-pocket costs mean more patients are putting on their consumer hats when seeking healthcare services. In turn, health systems are consolidating and taking on risk, requiring a retail-like mindset to engage with patients. To improve patient engagement, follow these tips.   

Enable Digital Connections With Patients

In retail, brands need to “be where their customers are” for both awareness and adoption. These concepts also apply to healthcare, where connecting digitally means empathizing with the patient journey and providing tools for meaningful interactions. For example, more than 80 percent of people search healthcare information online, meaning providers that publish patient satisfaction survey scores have greater visibility in Google searches, according to research by Vivian Lee.

A consumer experience strategy that crosses clinical, IT, marketing, and operations silos is critical in enabling digital connections. Lead with insights including voice of the customer (VOC) originating from inside and outside of healthcare. Put metrics in place to quantify your insights. Mature your project intake and prioritization process to blend traditional ROI measures around hard cost savings with new digital or omnichannel metrics that may not have a clearly accepted ROI. Establish consistent KPIs tied to measurable organizational objectives to prioritize digital programs during the budget cycle.

Recognize How Brand Engagement Affects Patient Expectations

Treat consumer experience (CX) or patient experience (PX) as a product and align product owners to manage the brand experience across a patient journey. This role will become acutely aware of how patient pain points align with gaps in operations to identify non-traditional opportunities for people, processes, data, and technology to make the patient journey seamless. Connect the end-to-end journey, reduce effort and build a brand experience for your patients as a partner in their health journey, not an episodic care provider.

Maximize Profitability Of Physical Space

Sectors that manage a physical presence are challenged with balancing the costs of maintaining physical locations with the revenue these locations generate. The same holds true in healthcare with limitations of exam room space. There is an opportunity to combine lean design principles with evolving patient experience expectations to optimize investment in physical space.

Hospitals can use technology to coordinate clinical care management, optimize scheduling and staffing, support point of sale collections or enhance care navigation to reduce administrative overhead. Implemented effectively, virtual care and tele-consults can enhance the profitability of physical space by freeing up exam rooms for higher acuity patients, allowing providers to practice at the top of their license.

Embrace Generational Differences In The Patient Experience

In digital marketing and online shopping, retailers have focused on millennials and digital natives. However, older generations are also adopting internet and mobile technology.

Investments made today will support more digitally connected, information-seeking patients in the next few years. Beyond investments in data interoperability, UX, content management, and workflow integration, allocate sufficient resources for internal adoption by investing in the roles, methods, and tools to elevate the organization. Consider upgrades to training platforms and holistic, branded internal change management campaigns to direct patients to these new tools.

Successful retailers understand opportunities for brand engagement with their customers. Facing similar expectations from patients, healthcare providers can apply retail strategies to their practices for healthier patients and a healthier bottom line.

About The Author

Matt Henry is a healthcare consultant with Point B, an integrated management consulting, venture investment, and real estate development firm. Henry has a 15-year record of accomplishments in the healthcare industry with expertise ranging from data analytics to mobile health to personalized digital experiences. He has led organizations’ digital strategy, roadmap, and implementation.