Let’s state the obvious, just to get it out of the way: the healthcare landscape is constantly changing, and we’re in a period of rapid evolution and extreme uncertainty. The pressures of this new environment are being felt by everyone including payers, providers, and the patients themselves.

I spent over a decade focused on data science and analytics in the healthcare industry, and recently, I have moved into the world of using data science to inform and power customer experience design with Sprocket CX.

This transition gives me a unique vantage point to clearly see the needs, pain points, and challenges of the healthcare industry, while exposing me to an entirely different toolset that could literally transform the way the healthcare industry thinks about care delivery and patient experience.

Curious? I hope so. Read on.

“Patients” –> “Consumers”

Patients are increasingly being incented and are behaving more and more like traditional consumers. Heck, the word “consumer” is even in the name of one of those motivational vehicles. (I’m looking at you, CDHP’s!) CDHP’s (Consumer Directed Health Plans) and HDHP’s (High Deductible Health Plans) are shifting some of the financial burden and decision-making over to patients/consumers. The idea is that, when consumers have financial skin in the game, they will shop around, compare prices and quality, and make more informed choices about the care they receive.

That’s the idea, and there are signs that it’s working. Technology start-ups such as Castlight Health and Healthcare Bluebook are encouraging consumers to “find their fair price” and compare the cost and quality of providers before they seek care.

Not only that, but websites like HealthGrades, ZocDoc, WebMD, RateMDs, and even Yelp are providing platforms for patients to submit their own ratings and reviews of doctors, clinics, and hospitals. And, providers are being paid on patient satisfaction (e.g., through programs like HCAHPS).

Could we be entering a new era of healthcare shopping that mimics the Amazon shopping experience? Maybe. But, there is no doubt that the healthcare industry is asking consumers to take on greater decision-making burden, which means the healthcare industry is beginning to look more and more like other consumer-driven industries, and I believe it should respond in kind.

Customer Experience Design

Enter customer experience design.

Techniques that have been commonplace in other industries (retail, automotive, technology/online, services, etc.) could be used to transform the healthcare industry into one that thinks about and treats patients as true consumers, rather than just asking them to behave that way.

Here are 3 traditional CX techniques that I believe would be particularly impactful for payers and providers who want to succeed and thrive in this new environment:

  1. Jobs to be Done (JTBD) – Consumer’s ultimately “hire” a product or service in order to accomplish something. This is their “job” that they want done. In the context of healthcare, you might be quick to jump to the obvious: patients want to be healthy, right? However, JTBD CX research almost always uncovers surprising jobs that end up being the true drivers of a consumers’ behaviors and decision-making. For example, an iPhone user’s JTBD go well beyond simply making phone calls on the go.

    How well you help a consumer accomplish their JTBD is a big determinant of how satisfied they will ultimately be. You can’t help consumers accomplish jobs you don’t know they have. Catch my drift? 

  1. Patient Personas – Personas are groupings of consumers based on their underlying goals and motivations. Knowing what motivates a particular consumer (or a particular consumer persona), helps you more effectively communicate with them and influence their behavior. Measures such as Hibbard’s Patient Activation Measure (PAM) begin to approximate this concept, but I would argue that it’s only 1 dimension to consider.

    The power of personas lies in how you apply them. Imagine the differences in how you would communicate with a set of orthopedic patients who are motivated by competition and athletic endeavors versus those who are motivated by comfort and control. Imagine the power in knowing the motivations of the majority of your cardiology patients. And most importantly, imagine the impact this might have on your diabetes quality and outcome scores.

  1. Journey Maps – Understanding a consumer’s journey complete with care delivery touchpoints, points of satisfaction, and pain points is a fundamental exercise that leads to more relevant communication, better care delivery, new innovation opportunities, and a huge opportunity to improve patient satisfaction.

    Many providers measure patient satisfaction, so they know whether patients are satisfied or not. However, they don’t know why or what to target for improvement. Journey maps provide a powerful way to improve patient experience without wasting resources on activities and touchpoints that aren’t related to satisfaction.

Sprocket Can Help

There is no doubt that the healthcare industry is unique. The inverse relationship of supply and demand demonstrates this. However, there is also no doubt that the healthcare industry is becoming more like other consumer-driven industries.

Sprocket is an ideal partner with deep experience in both the healthcare industry and in customer experience design, more broadly. We would love to help you envision ways that customer experience design might transform your organization and the way you interact with patients/consumers.

We would love to turn with you! Contact us if you’d like some help.