How can industries elevate consumer experience across healthcare sector

Every consumer is different with disparate conditions, needs, and expectations of the health care they receive. To meet these diverse demands, health organisations can take several key strategic approaches, said Manoj Kapoor, VP, Technology, Optum Global Solutions India, at TechSparks 2021

Healthcare leaders across the globe are looking at how consumers are engaging with their health plans and how the challenges of yesteryear can actually be solved by the convergence of various technologies that are available as well as the experience economy that is driving the world today, said Manoj Kapoor, Vice President, Technology, Optum Global Solutions (India) Pvt. Ltd

In a masterclass titled ‘Building a consumer centric healthcare system’ at TechSparks 2021, YourStory’s flagship startup-tech event, Manoj said, the whole journey of consumerism can be defined across six broad pillars - Shopping for benefits, staying well, choosing care, receiving care, managing conditions, and saving and paying for care.

In other words, patient experience or consumer experience is everything that gets accounted for in these six broad categories. He also highlighted that it is important for organisations to know the individuals they’re serving.

Navigating towards a consumer-centric future

Every consumer is different with disparate conditions, needs, and expectations of the care they receive. To meet these diverse demands, health organisations can take several key strategic approaches.

Consumers are becoming more intelligent about how they take care of their health, and they want to have a say in the decision making in the care delivery models. Today, healthcare is becoming hyper personalised and it is important for healthcare leaders to understand that they need to allow consumers to get the care information or the health information, and at the terms that they need, Manoj stated.

The second area where one can be more consumer centric and how one can navigate towards that is how we design products and services around the consumer segmentation. 

“We need to ensure that we understand the subtle nuances of each consumer and their behaviour and understand who they are from a clinical perspective, social perspective, mental perspective, financial perspective, and from a career perspective, so that we can actually design products, which not just takes care of their health, but also their entire well-being,” he said.

Third, the pandemic has kind of accelerated the rate of digital adoption. A lot of tele-health, virtual health, and home care solutions are making inroads in the healthcare industry. 

“Now, one has to basically make sure that you view digital health and telehealth beyond novelties or standalone strategies and these strategies need to be embedded and amalgamated into your overall strategy of engaging meaningfully with the consumers,” explained Manoj.

So it is important to step back and look at the end-to-end consumer journey and then identify the gaps and see what is the art of the possible in order to provide a highly hyper-personalised consumer centric experience. 

To understand this further, Manoj spoke about the six broad categories of consumer journey, which can help the healthcare industry attain, engage, and retain customers.

1. Shopping for benefits - Healthcare is incredibly personal, just like banking. Each individual needs to have the tools to easily find, select, consume, and engage with the healthcare system based on the preferences and needs,” said Kristi Henderson, SVP, Center for Digital and Health and Innovation, Optum.

Easy access to information and services, low-cost transparent pricing, and hyper-personalisation are some of the ways suggested by Manoj for providing customers with best-in-class shopping experience in the healthcare segment. 

2. Staying well - According to Manoj, consumers today want easy access to all the tools and resources in order to stay healthy, manage their lifestyle, and basically do some proactive and preventive ways of managing their health. Most importantly, how do they stay out of hospitals, avoid unnecessary hospitalisation or a visit to the doctor.

“It is actually becoming paramount now for the healthcare players to make sure they are not only providing healthcare when people are sick, but also providing all the tools and resources that are required for a person to stay healthy. I think this is a tall ask and many organisations are not rising to the occasion in order to provide that,” said Manoj.

3. Choosing care - Choosing the right care can be critical for consumers. So it is important for healthcare professionals to first build trust with their patient and give a transparent picture of all the costs involved, thus giving them complete information.

4. Receiving care - Patients want to receive care wherever they are and their rapid adoption of in-home, digital diagnostics, and remote monitoring tools are making that a reality. Thinking about home as the epicentre of care is a big structural shift, Manoj said.

So, it is important for organisations to identify digitally-enabled partners that can complement and expand its consumers’ touch points into urgent, retail, virtual, and in-home environments. It is also necessary to build consumer segmentation profiles that includes SDOH (Social Determinants of Health), cultural heritage, health literacy, and access preferences.

5. Managing conditions - In most countries, 80-90 percent of healthcare cost goes into managing poly chronic (more than one chronic condition) diseases. Creating a holistic approach to managing these conditions is important for healthcare facilitators. 

To do so, Manoj suggested that it is necessary for enterprises to recognise the impact of some of the social determinant of health, demographics factors, the lifestyle, attitudes of people towards their health, and the technology that is helping people make the right choices and engaging them in the best possible way to improve their chronic conditions.

6. Saving and paying for care – According to Manoj, it is also important for healthcare organisations to provide customers access to budgeting, price transparency, and financial tool that match the economic context.

“Offer pre-service estimates and easy payment options. Protect your consumer from surprise billing,” said Manoj.

“Know your customer and your systems have to be built in a manner where you capture their personal preferences and data. Have the right metrics,” concluded Manoj.

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Edited by Megha Reddy