Organizations in virtually every industry realize that excellent customer experience (CX) is a crucial driver of success, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in healthcare.
CX in the healthcare industry — aka, patient experience — has been a tough nut to crack for most companies. While patients have come to expect the same level of digitized, efficient service they experience in sectors like retail and telecoms, they also need an empathic, human touch to help them through the stressful, worrying times of sickness or injury. As such, balancing the two approaches is a critical challenge.
Here at The Workloop, we’ve seen several healthcare organizations (HCOs) successfully reimagine their approach to CX, so here’s our take on the state of patient journeys today and a few ideas for streamlining them in 2022.
What are ‘Patient Journeys’?
The patient journey refers to a patient’s experience dealing with healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical professionals. The journey involves the entire process from realization (recognizing that there is a medical issue) and diagnosis (learning what the problem is) to treatment (through medication, doctor visits, and therapy) and recovery (getting back on your feet).
Complexity is one of the main difficulties HCOs face when seeking to streamline these journeys. Firstly, there are multiple communication touchpoints, from doctors and pharmacists to surgeons, insurance providers, and financiers. Secondly, patients and HCOs might use a mix of mobile apps, telephone calls, emails, and social media channels, creating multiple data silos and making it tough to track everything. Finally, patients might also have various illnesses or injuries at once, causing further fragmentation
Within this complex ecosystem, people want access to the care, services, and information they need without obstruction or delay, which is why improving patient journeys has become such a priority for the industry.
Mapping Patient Journeys for Better CX
One of the reasons that HCOs are falling behind in CX is their struggle to understand customers’ wants, needs, and behaviors. As such, the first step in any patient journey improvement program is patient journey mapping. This process requires HCOs to look at each stage of the patient experience to understand the journey from their perspective and find areas for improvement.
For instance, perhaps a hospital’s interactive voice response system has difficulty connecting a patient to the correct department, or the website’s automated chatbot isn’t correctly sending appointment details over email. Mapping helps pinpoint these faults in the system and allows providers to drive better results for patients while saving money for the organization.
After mapping the patient journey, providers should organize and aggregate all of their existing data, prioritize improvements based on insights found in that data, collect feedback from patients, and give CX employees the right tools to leverage this information. The goal is to reduce complexity by breaking down data silos and creating a clear birdseye view of the patient journey, ultimately enabling enhanced patient experiences.
Applying the Human Touch
While most companies in the healthcare space have found a way to implement digital channels like mobile apps, there is still a lack of investment into physical channels of human engagement, limiting overall improvement in healthcare CX.
Organizations can address this by starting contact center initiatives to transform how they interact with patients. With a small contact center pilot in place, HCOs can more effectively handle patient queries, analyze interactions, and report on them, with the option to expand on their contact center presence as their capabilities mature.
Still, there’s no reason to start a contact center from scratch. By working with a dedicated CX provider, HCOs can leverage decades worth of CX and healthcare knowledge to enhance their communication over voice, webchat, email, social media, video, and other channels. Be sure to choose a HIPAA-compliant contact center provider that can integrate with your existing systems and develop hyper-personalized experiences that address each patient’s unique needs.
With the proper patient mapping process combined with a robust, transformative contact center strategy, HCOs can provide competitive, differentiated experiences that bring digital efficiencies and human connections together into a memorable patient journey.