Our world today is more personalized than ever. Most industries are now characterized by customization, with consumers expecting experiences and outcomes exactly how they want them, when they want them. If retail, hospitality, food services, and most other industries can custom-tailor experiences based on the wants and needs of their target audiences, why can’t healthcare do the same?
The key drivers of personalization in other industries are also present in healthcare. Across the board, consumers have come to expect convenience, speed, ease-of-use, accessibility, and flexibility in all facets of their experiences with providers of products and services. In addition, there has been an explosion of data around consumer preferences and choices, what drives satisfaction, what consumers prioritize in these experiences, and more. These same factors apply to healthcare – patients, or consumers, want to access care on their own terms, and they want it quickly, conveniently, and digitally. Over the past couple of years, patients’ changing expectations for healthcare experiences have been a key driver of transformative change in the industry perhaps more than anything else.
Luckily, there is a wealth of data that health systems can, and must, leverage to support and meet these preferences. With nearly one billion physician office visits in the U.S. each year, health systems have a major opportunity to create more personalized experiences for both patients and providers and greatly improve consumer satisfaction – they just need the right tools to do so.
The blueprint for creating custom-tailored healthcare access comes down to four key areas: capturing the data, thinking like a digital marketer in today’s consumer-centric landscape, connecting and aligning with your supply, and optimizing experiences. By following the steps outlined below, health systems can deliver care experiences that will improve access, satisfaction, retention, outcomes and cost reduction for patients, providers, and health systems overall.
Capturing the data
Being a data-driven entity overall is important for health systems to deliver more personalized, digitally-enabled healthcare for patients. However, insights garnered by one dataset in particular are especially valuable here, and that is encounter data. There are three main categories that determine encounter data: patient intent, clinical requirements, and provider and health system requirements.
Data around patient intent reveals what patients want when seeking care, and clinical requirements are what patients need. The wants and needs of patients often differ, so it is critical for health systems to consider and meet both factors. The third category of data, provider and health system requirements, includes provider capabilities, availability, and health system objectives. Every interaction within a health system then generates encounter data, which includes visit duration, cost, satisfaction, and other metrics. However, not all health systems make use of it. It is the health systems that can access this data, analyze the insights it garners and apply it to their operational and care delivery processes that will ultimately create personalized experiences and see success.
Together, this data paints a picture about the current state of the health system, how efficiently it is operating, how intelligently it is using resources, and how well patient expectations are being met. In order to fully understand patient and provider experiences and how they could be improved and personalized, health systems must be able to capture and apply all of this data.
Thinking like a digital marketer
Digital marketers are highly sophisticated in how they reach consumers with targeted messages and campaigns. The key to marketing conversion is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to become customers and to give them what they need before, during, and after a transaction. The same concept must be applied to healthcare.
With more choices for care than ever before, care access has to be easy and experiences have to be seamless. To start, health systems need to minimize the number of steps it takes for patients to find care. If searching and finding care is difficult or cumbersome, patients will look elsewhere. Additionally, it must be simple for patients to continue their care journeys and book follow-up appointments after the initial encounter. Just like how repeated, positive consumer interactions with a certain company create brand loyalty, health systems must create an easy, repeatable, and continuous process to find, receive and return to healthcare to build patient engagement, satisfaction, retention, and trust.
Having a deep understanding of patient wants, needs and other data-informed consumer-centric behaviors are crucial to attract and retain patients. The patient holds more power in their own care journeys and decision-making than ever before, so health systems have no choice but to adapt existing processes to become highly personalized experiences. By thinking like a digital marketer and a healthcare leader, providers have the ability to deliver the highest quality patient experiences and care.
Connecting the supply of resources to patient demand
Once a health system has created a simple, personalized digital front door and has attracted a patient, the next step is connecting them with the best care option based on the needs of the patient and the overall availability of its own resources and providers. While historically, patients have sought out an appointment with a specific provider and received a one-to-one engagement, this is not necessarily the most effective structure in all care scenarios. A provider-agnostic model of care can result in better outcomes, when appropriate, in which the patient is recommended to see the nearest available provider with the care modality, setting and expertise that best meets all of their needs, and quickly. This model benefits patients, providers, and health systems – patients get the high-quality care they need quicker, providers can practice at the top of their licenses, and health systems can balance their loads and best utilize their resources to operate more strategically and make care more accessible to more patients.
Additionally, the provider-agnostic model enables best-fit care, where patients get matched to the ideal care options for them. Best-fit care means seeing the right provider and having access to the right care modalities in the right setting. Utilizing patient, provider, and encounter data, health systems can train a machine learning model that can predict outcomes when patients are matched with specific providers. Leveraging data-driven intelligence in this way allows health systems to create matches that will result in the highest satisfaction, issue resolution rate, and other positive outcomes.
Personalizing and optimizing healthcare experiences
When health systems maximize the potential and application of their data, they can successfully deliver personalized care. Custom-tailored care results in a visit that not only meets the needs of the patient, but also leads to optimal outcomes in terms of satisfaction, time, and cost, among other metrics. This level of quality care also extends beyond new patients to existing patients within a system. If circumstances or preferences change for a patient already in the process of accessing care, custom-tailored care means that the health system will redirect the patient to an improved provider or care modality for optimal experiences at all times.
Intelligent health systems understand the importance of personalizing the healthcare experience for patients. Health systems have no shortage of data between patient, provider, and encounter data – custom-tailored care is the result of strategically and intelligently leveraging these data-driven insights. As the care delivery market continues to expand and grow more competitive, meeting consumers where they are, and through personalized experiences, will play a large role in determining health system success now and moving forward.