The future of customer experience in health
Article for ScanBalt News by Agata Piekut, CEO, Healthy Culture Action Think Tank
Digital transformation in healthcare changed the model of patient relations completely. Patients gained a much wider access to information which turned them into active decision makers. This impacts every health-related issue in their lives from adapting lifestyle habits to avoid chronic diseases to trusting companies with their most sensitive data.
New customer environment
Recent years brought some significant changes to how healthcare operates. In no other industry businesses have to deal with such a wide spectrum of emotions, from indifference to preventive activities to panic in case of an emergency. And now, when patients are confused and don’t know who to trust, search engines or friends always have a simple answer.
Technology disrupted how we see accessibility of healthcare, too. It’s no longer a typical nine to five enterprise, patients expect it to be 24/7 and full-service. For example Moms and Health Technology Survey shows that what mothers need most is round the clock access to a doctor. Patient experience before digital transformation was also limited to just two channels: medical facilities or pharmacies. So the relations were mostly linear, controlled and top-down. Fast forward to today and healthcare industry has to deal with the multiplication of available channels – from traditional to mobile platforms and social media.
The role of social media
Social media have a significant impact on our health decisions. PWC’s report Social media “likes” healthcare confirmed that patients trust health related information posted on social media (61 %) and use it to choose medical facilities and doctors (41 %). McKinsey’s research of the consumer decision journey also found out that “two-thirds of the touch points during the active-evaluation phase involve consumer-driven activities such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family.“ In Europe 41 % of citizens turn to friends and family for health-related information.
But it’s not only about strong emotional bonds. Social media play also a big role in the creation of support structures between patients. Even doctors have noticed the advantages of participating on those platforms, especially when it comes to the implementation of lifestyle changes that need constant reinforcement. Social media are the most easily accessible channels of communication. Those in charge of them need to address problems quickly, to the point and, most important, emphatically.
For the first time the healthcare industry has to work this hard to gain patients’ trust. Implementing customer experience is no longer just an option, it’s an essential element of the business strategy.