April 5, 2021 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team
If there's any industry that has gone under massive transformation over the last few years, it's healthcare. The industry has seen a significant rise in innovation and reduction of cost. It's just the beginning. Patients are asking for a higher standard from healthcare organizations.
Patients want their physicians to compete with other consumer-facing industries. They expect an emphasis on convenience, patient satisfaction, transparency.
Healthcare marketers should think out of the box. There's an important need - and growing opportunity - to reinvent the healthcare experience by adapting key retail principles to design outpatient "stores".
According to a survey by Mckinsey, healthcare providers are experiencing a confluence of forces driving a significant move from inpatient care to:
To retail veterans, this sounds simple. The retail landscape was once dominated by giant, multi-departmental, centralized facilities - included malls and downtown department stores. Like hospitals, they were expensive to operate and drew from an entire market area for an extended visit. Similarly, healthcare systems will continue to move away from monolithic hospital settings to become more available for customers.
Modern healthcare is changing significantly in the last few years. Today, patients have plenty of ways to receive care - they can go to a doctor's office, visit urgent care centers, retail clinics, or virtually consult with their doctor via telehealth technologies.
With so many options available, patients are rethinking the way they get care. There is no question that healthcare needs to accommodate these changes or risk falling to the wayside. Retailers like CVS are expanding their healthcare offerings to be more accessible than ever, turning their ubiquitous pharmacies into HealthHubs that give affordable and accessible health services. If anything is ahead of their widening scope of care, they are more than happy to refer patients to one of their preferred doctors.
Ultimately healthcare needs to give the patient a great experience and high-quality care as well as make their services more convenient and accessible.
There is an opportunity to build more real patient experiences by enhancing communication between patients and providers, and deepening relationships between both parties. Health systems need to reference the level of customer engagement that retailers present and strive to provide their patients an even better experience.
Picture, for one moment, a brick-and-mortar retail store that thousands of customers enter every day. They consciously decide to enter the store so they can purchase a few items, but in reality, the psychology that motivated them to choose that store was far more complex. They were brought into the shop using a combination of marketing strategies that exist on the backend of the organization, such as advertising, in-store merchandising, reputation management, and much more. For retailers, the goal of these initiatives is to convince customers that their store has all the products customers will need, at the right price. At each of these touchpoints, the customer's understanding of the services is a top priority.
Now, visualize a hospital as that store. Under this retail model, health systems give the care provided by a doctor instead of physical products. To convince customers that their health system charges an appropriate price for a high standard of care, they will need a close alignment between sales, healthcare marketing, and customer service. The idea is to use the retail model to connect multiple, disparate patient experiences that occur over an extended period, resulting in a unified patient experience. Being there for patients during their entire journey allows health systems to drive the kind of patient engagement that will lead to proactive health and increased loyalty over the long term.
Healthcare innovators understand the need for a compelling, holistic customer-centric experience, making inefficient processes that reduce sitting and waiting and invite visitors to engage and get inspired. Hours and pricing are consumer-focused, and digital technology and consistent branding are woven in.
It's no secret that today's healthcare consumers are smarter and more informed about their health than ever before. Many health regularities are refining their websites and physician listings to make sure that these informed customers see their health system before the competition. This includes publishing content regarding common health concerns and showcasing physician expertise. From there, consumers can find the doctor that best suits their requirements, find nearby clinics, and learn about upcoming events at the health system. Even new patients can self-schedule appointments online for certain procedures and time blocks, as determined by individual providers.
Providers need to go where the customers are, not just expect customers to seek out a health system. This involves managing physician listings on third-party websites and deriving insights from common customer reviews. Managing an online presence across sites like Google, healthgrades.com, Yelp, Bing, and Facebook assures provider listings are highly visible and convenient to access for patients who are actively looking for a doctor.
Given today's consumer-focused healthcare landscape, health organizations and hospitals require to undertake more innovative approaches to patient care to remain top of mind in an increasingly competitive market. The Healthcare Industry needs to find out new ways to improve engagement between patients and doctors by borrowing from successful retail models. This will help to succeed in this patient-centric care environment.
Today, the future of healthcare looks a lot like retail. Which makes it an opportunity to innovate like never before!