A consumer-first healthcare revolution has been simmering for years. Despite efforts to create more human-friendly services, the industry still lags behind other consumer-centric sectors. Patients want healthcare to be simple, convenient and on-demand, but a persistent lack of coordination, accessibility and affordability leaves many struggling to navigate the healthcare landscape with ease. Is this about to change? Has COVID-19 flipped the switch?
The pandemic has prompted people to engage with their own care in a way the industry hasn’t seen before, with a surge in telehealth and virtual care. Infection-control forced much of the patient journey online, while providers were pushed to find new ways to communicate quickly and clearly. Now, those with an eye on the road to post COVID-19 financial recovery are optimizing these digital strategies to meet new consumer expectations and improve patient loyalty.
Embracing digital technology and automation throughout the entire patient journey will be key to patient acquisition and retention. Where should providers focus first?
4 consumer-led strategies to keep patients loyal
1. Prioritize convenience across the entire consumer experience
Eighty percent of patients would switch providers for convenience factors alone – ranking ‘convenient, easy access’ ahead of insurance coverage and quality of care. Creating a digital experience that gives patients the flexibility and simplicity they desire should be priority number one in any patient loyalty plan.
Providers can start by reviewing their digital platforms. Encourage patients to use their patient portal to access information, book appointments and manage their healthcare when appropriate. Telehealth and virtual care solutions can be future-proofed with reliable identity protection, so patients can safely access care from home and not worry about cumbersome log-in procedures.
2. Make patient access…accessible
The patient experience shouldn’t begin with time-consuming forms, long waits and error-prone manual intake processes. Rather, providers can make it easy for patients to complete as many tasks as possible BEFORE they set foot in the office by automating patient access.
Online patient scheduling lets patients book, cancel and change appointments online – which 77% of patients say is very important. It has the potential to reduce delays and no-shows, and can minimize the administrative burden for provider staff. While patients remain concerned about the risk of infection during COVID-19, providers can ease their concerns by reducing face-to-face contact with online pre-registration.
3. Respond to affordability and pricing pain points
One Experian Health study found that the top pain points in the consumer journey center on the financial experience, from shopping for health insurance to understanding medical bills. Patients may be unsure what their insurance covers, whether their deductible has been met and whether they can afford the out-of-pocket costs. By providing clear, upfront pricing information about coverage and financial responsibility, providers can protect their patients from unnecessary surprises and reduce the risk of missed payments.
Self-service patient payment tools can simplify the payment process too: patients can settle their bills anytime, anywhere, and get advice on financial assistance and best-fit payment plans.
4. Personalize the patient experience from end to end
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it anymore. Patients are looking for communications and services tailored to their individual needs. That used to be both technically and logistically impossible, but not anymore. Providers today can use comprehensive data and analytics to personalize the entire healthcare journey, from customer relationship management to patient collections.
By combining automation, self-service tools and accurate insights into the patient’s circumstances, providers can help consumers make better decisions about their care and how to pay for it. To ensure data reliability and integrity, providers should consider partnering with a trusted data vendor, who can translate robust, multi-source consumer and financial data into a competitive consumer experience.
There is no question that COVID-19 has changed the way we do healthcare, but the industry is perfectly posed to harness the change in consumer behavior and shift towards greater patient engagement. By bringing together a myriad of digital tools, providers can create a healthcare experience that’s convenient, compassionate and in line with consumer expectations.
Interested in learning more about how we can help your organization welcome new patients through its digital door, and boost loyalty among existing patients?Contact us.