By Kevin Nolan, Global Head of Healthcare Marketing, HGS
This year’s Next Generation Patient Experience (NGPX) conference promised to unite America's best-and-brightest patient experience leaders to connect, inspire, and transform healthcare. Did it deliver on the promise? Depends on who you ask. Here are my takeaways from the event.
Insight: Every health system has a problem with no shows.
Most of the health system presenters at the event quoted that their facilities receive 10,000 to 15,000 visitors every day. A growing trend is the increasing number of patients who don’t show up for appointments. Attempts to secure appointments include sending text messages on appointment day, placing pre-recorded reminder calls, and sending emails. None have been especially successful. The org chart may be partially to blame. Patient appointment-booking functions tend to report into operations or marketing, rather than into patient experience (if a formal organization exists). This function is one that health systems should consider outsourcing to a BPO partner.
Insight: Doctors who use AI will replace those who don’t.
Artificial Intelligence is everywhere, and it depends on data. Health systems have a phenomenal amount of data at their disposal – from claims, labs, and other sources – but knowing what data is actionable is the big question.
Insight: Hospitals can learn a lot from theme parks.
This seems to be a trending topic because a few white papers have recently surfaced. The parallels are fascinating. Guests at a theme park and patients at a hospital go there expecting a transformative and immersive experience. People expect easy access and a smooth exit. For example, the Mayo Clinic has taken cues from theme park design to launch an interactive kiosk for patient check-in and check-out. Now, two years in, patients are increasingly comfortable with the set-up. Where expectation meets reality is in the handling of the experience. The least skilled and experienced workers are often the people that the guest/patient interacts with the most. Hospital systems have an opportunity for upskilling their teams across all disciplines to provide a more pleasurable and patient-centric experience.
Insight: Billing can ruin the healthcare experience.
Early in my career, I interviewed an executive at a wireless carrier and asked them about the carrier’s definition of customer care. The response was “getting the bill correct.” Healthcare is not too far removed from this definition. Billing is a critical issue. CMS issued a report that Americans spent $3.6 trillion on healthcare last year, or $11,172 per person. Hospital care, clinical, and physician services make up more than half of that total. Adding to the misery is the fact that hospital bills have historically been difficult to understand and challenging to defend. Revenue cycle managers and patient experience coordinators are not always equipped to articulate what is on the bill. One consumer solution may be to just put the whole thing on a credit card and incur an additional annual percentage rate. This is not a satisfying conclusion. Hospital systems would be better served by working with a BPO partner that has experience in revenue cycle management and customer care.
Insight: Lots of tools are available to improve the digital experience; however, a tool is a means, not an end.
The last session I attended was a panel on “the Future of Healthcare and the Digital Experience.” Full disclosure – one of my colleagues was a panelist. Hospitals are investing in digital technology now more than ever; such investments include patient portals and phone apps. The goal is to reduce the cost of care while providing a better patient experience. A few best practices: identify what problem you’re looking to solve (remember Step 1 of the scientific method?); know who the internal and external stakeholders are; meet the patient where they are in terms of languages and channels; be nimble; and, above all, make it easy for patients and staff. Remember what the tool is used for, the analogy used is don’t use a nail gun as a hammer! With every digital advancement comes additional data. Knowing how to extract the data and what to do with it is always the challenge.