Customer Experience Shifts Grow Along with Healthcare Consumerism

March 5, 2020 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Today, consumers stay on their smartphones day and night to take care of all facets of their lives, including searching for an in-network pediatric specialist after hours or scheduling a follow-up visit to their dermatologist while at work. But the patient journey can be filled with curves and bumps when healthcare providers don't keep pace—or involve their full teams.

The shift to a consumer-driven market means patients expect more than ever before—which means the impacts of and responsibility for round-the-clock access to agents and digital tools for advice, referrals, appointment scheduling, and reminders is matter for the whole healthcare enterprise. Not just the marketing team.

Lead healthcare consumers to many touch points

As patients took on a larger financial responsibility for their healthcare costs over the last decade, they assumed more responsibility for managing their own care, too. With those shifts and their proficiency with personal tech, patients became powerful healthcare consumers wanting high-level, 24/7 service.

General search queries and social media are the first stops in identifying and choosing their next healthcare provider. Not only do you need digital solutions and traditional telephone services to manage their arrival, but you need to ensure that your practice or facility is equipped to reinforce the many ways to manage their journey.

Create a roadmap for a smooth patient experience

Your organization's outreach strategy very likely encompasses a multichannel customer experience (CX) that may already include your website, marketing, EHR, call center agents, and more. But what about your front desk team? Or the medical assistants and nurses who are the first healthcare professionals to care for them? Are they informed about the many ways patients can connect with your entity? The end goal is to align all these functions to optimize the customer experience. Mapping the full patient experience gives you valuable insights into getting all these pieces to expertly merge together—and gathering the team and working across departments to map out the process is essential to attract patients, provide an ongoing connection, and earn their loyalty.

Close the gaps with a holistic patient access strategy

Accustomed to placing their online order for pick up then walking in to Starbucks, patients want conveniences. These create efficiencies in several areas, including:

  • Scheduling at any hour

    Offer online scheduling for tech-centric customers, including new patients, as well as live agents. Having your friendly staff and professional after-hours agents is essential for those who have questions or prefer a more traditional approach.

  • Online tools direct digital consumers

    When patients check online to see if the provider is accepting new patients or is a member of their insurance plan, search engines lead them to your website. An online appointment scheduling process is a smart investment to expand your acquisition channels.

  • Reminders sent through their preferred channel

    Reminders about appointments are essential to supporting your business. Meet the expanding expectations to engage through the customer's preferred method of communication rather than only by phone. Make sure everyone in the organization not only knows what the options are but how to best connect patients to their preferred method of communication.

Coming out of a visit, offer auto messaging reminders for balance and follow-up appointment requests. Healthcare organizations providing the tools and technology that patients want in addition to the traditional and personable staff gain loyalty. What's more, scheduling and reminder tools lead to fewer missed appointments from no-shows and busy customers, which brings greater revenue.

Delivering more for today's healthcare consumers

Patients want convenience, quality, and personalized experiences like they get at the corner bookstore or friendly Chick-fil-A. The customer experience– both improving access to care and enhancing patient engagement – are journeys that require a detailed road map and a partner to help navigate the way.

Stericycle Communication Solutions helps healthcare organizations by integrating human and tech-enabled touch points to improve the customer experience. Let's look into the ways a customized solution could support your communications outreach.

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