Thought Leadership

Managing Customer Experience In Healthcare — Why It Is Crucial In The Aftermath Of The Pandemic

Our current economic climate has thrown the inner workings of many industry sectors into sharp relief. Healthcare arguably tops the list of the industries most affected in recent years.

A global pandemic notwithstanding, consumers and businesses alike have had to shift their expectations for care. From telemedicine to virtual doctor’s visits becoming increasingly common, online presence means everything. These are all-natural byproducts of a changing world, making access to affordable, efficient healthcare more critical than ever.

In our highly digital world, consumers have begun to rely on certain online services to help guide them through the resulting peaks and valleys of the changing economy.

Amazon, for example, grew over the years to prove efficient delivery for just about any consumer product you can think of. Why shouldn’t other industries provide a similar efficiency for their customer base? The customer experience (CX) in healthcare is past-due for a significant change. For such an overhaul to be completed correctly, customer feedback must be considered and implemented appropriately. Let’s take a look at how revamping the customer experience can ultimately help transform the healthcare industry for the better.

The Customer Experience Today

Businesses started collecting consumer data decades ago in an effort to improve customer experience and increase revenue. These data sets helped businesses usher in a new era of personalized service. The shift helped companies provide better, more personalized products for consumers across the globe.

During the height of the pandemic, many companies had to shift their business model to cater to a new generation. Companies looked at consumer trends from online shopping to restaurant curbside pickup and pivoted accordingly. This helped customers to feel valued. Companies today recognize that a valued customer tends to exhibit brand loyalty.

The purpose of this piece is not to explore marketing. Rather, it is to explore the customer experience as it relates to the overarching healthcare field as a whole. So, why hasn’t the healthcare field made the necessary changes needed to make life easier for millions? Why haven’t better practices been implemented?

Healthcare products are becoming commoditized, and a growing focus on Customer Experience is expected by customers.

Healthcare Pricing

We live in an age of instant gratification. Gone are the days when we need to spend hours searching for the right product. We can simply type an item into our internet search bar, and voila. Item secured. Oftentimes for an affordable price.

This isn’t always the case when it comes to healthcare-related services and products. The prices for services and products in the healthcare space are generally negotiated by health insurance companies and healthcare providers. These negotiated prices aren’t public knowledge, leaving customers wondering what the final total will be until after care or products have been received. Not to mention, the cost of processing an order in the healthcare field is significantly higher than a typical retail order. This is partially due to the fact that when it comes to patient care, patients are not looked at as individuals but more so as an aggregate whole. This is what pricing models are based on, leading to high premiums, exorbitant hospital bills, and varying product price tags.

The murky waters of healthcare costs can lead patients to default to a higher price, even when price does not always equate to quality care. The inherently complex system makes it difficult for patients to truly understand the pricing systems they subscribe to. Imagine ordering an item off of Amazon, thinking you’ll be paying $14.99 at purchase, and receiving an additional bill later for $44.99 outlining what it took to get that item to your doorstep. While this is an overly simplified analogy regarding healthcare costs, it is similar in that many times; patients are caught unaware of the entire cost of care until well after the fact.

Needed Improvements in CX

One way healthcare providers can help improve CX is to leverage customer data and implement accurate pricing. This way, individual patients will be looked at as the standard at which costs are priced rather than aggregated procedures and services on the whole.

A major revamp will be required if those in the healthcare sector are to provide next-level CX. What might that look like in the home healthcare space, for example? Suggested improvements are a complex issue as many moving parts affect how customer service is delivered to patients.

Circumstances for care range from memory problems to significant physical ailments. How a patient experiences treatment both during and after their care is measured by multiple factors. These factors then reflect directly on how well CX is perceived.

We’ve all dealt with laborious claims processes and tedious paperwork. Many experience excessive waiting periods dealing with complaint resolutions or connecting with help to schedule appointments and pharmacy pick-ups. Improving operations internally can help bolster these systems to work more efficiently. Gathering feedback and using analytics to leverage the data will be helpful for identifying operational gaps and improving overall performance.

A Healthy Path Forward

Ensuring positive improvements get implemented is a gargantuan task. However, transformation is possible. By creating a better system for access to care, CX can have a healthier track record.

Key areas like transparent costs and sustainable delivery of care should be at the forefront of every CX plan. Coordinating a better customer experience is going to take effort from nearly every angle in the healthcare industry. Gathering data, analyzing it, and implementing the information found will help drive change. This might be completed through customer surveys, social media feedback, various customer service logs, or sales data. Large swathes of information can be collected from these various areas, all to help pull focus toward a patient-centered approach.

Navigating and receiving care shouldn’t be as costly or as difficult as the current healthcare system is set up to be. A data-driven approach to operational change is one way to ensure the customer experience in the healthcare sector is a positive one.

About the Author:

Aditya Kejriwal currently leads the customer experience strategy for Cardinal’s direct-to-consumer business, prioritizing building a customer-centric culture. He has been with Cardinal for eight years and has played multiple roles in commercial product management, digital transformation, business process outsourcing, and shared services development. Previously, he held senior roles at WNS global services and other service delivery organizations, where he specialized in leading multi-geography, multi-disciplinary programs that included cost consolidation and process harmonization across geographically dispersed