Elevating the Patient Experience in Healthcare and Health Insurance

Patients demand a more seamless experience. Learn how to stay competitive by providing what they're looking for.

hospital administrator talking with physician

Today’s healthcare and health insurance providers face many challenges: the complexity of health systems, continual increases in the cost of care, rapidly changing technologies, and now, the demand from patients that they provide the same exceptional customer experience (CX) offered by other industries. In fact, 59% of U.S. consumers expect their healthcare digital customer experience to be similar to that of retail.

How can you meet growing demands for a better patient experience? Keep an eye on the following key trends for CX in healthcare:

Technology is being incorporated into every aspect of patient care

Consumers have become more comfortable with using technology in every other area of their lives, so it’s no surprise that they’re starting to look for it in healthcare as well. Telemedicine saw a rapid increase in adoption as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in 2020.

Communication with Providers

Most people have gotten used to virtual communication like talking to family or colleagues on FaceTime or Zoom, messaging with customer service, and working remotely. In-person is no longer a requirement of feeling connected, and that trend has made its way to the healthcare sector.

According to Cisco, 70% of consumers are comfortable with the idea of communicating with doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person, particularly when it comes to the following information:

  • Weight (28%)
  • Sleep patterns (26%)
  • Exercise/physical activity (25%)
  • Symptoms/general health complaints (25%)
  • Nutritional information (20%)
  • Vital signs (15%)

Remote Patient Care (Telemedicine)

More than 60% of consumers are comfortable with the idea of being treated by a specialist using virtual technology. Today’s focus on shorter hospital stays with rigorous follow-through lends itself to remote patient care.

In addition, 20% of Americans live in rural areas without easy access to primary care or specialist services, while 80 million live in an area with too few mental health providers. Even in large cities, many patients find it difficult to get to the doctor’s office. As everyone settles into telemedicine as a new normal, it will be important to continually measure patient satisfaction with this newer format.

Online Patient Portals

For both medical service providers and health insurance companies, the shift to providing patients with as much information as possible via an online portal has become table stakes.

Patients have become used to checking appointments, billing statements, and test results from health providers online. They also expect to be able to manage their health plans, track spending and deductibles, find in-network doctors, and get cost estimates for procedures and prescriptions using health insurance providers’ websites and mobile apps. And much as they would expect to be able to find answers to their common questions on any other company website, your patients are looking to self-serve on your digital properties as well.

Because of these expectations, it’s important to measure the success of these interactions with quick, real-time surveys (e.g., were you able to complete the task you wanted to today?), and text analysis of the questions that patients are asking in self-service. This information can help you improve your site’s interactive tools as well as the quality of the answers you’re providing, while deflecting calls from the contact center.

Consumers are dissatisfied with experiences as healthcare and health insurance providers try to keep pace.

While almost every other industry has joined the “Age of the Customer,” healthcare is still lagging behind. Because the bulk of payment for each service comes from an insurance company or government program, many providers don’t view patients as their customers. The result has been consumers who feel powerless and resigned to being regularly disappointed with the service they receive: less than half of patients are satisfied with their overall consumer experience.

But with the rise of high-deductible plans, consumers feel more like paying customers—even if providers don’t see it yet—and are demanding the star treatment they get from other industries. They don’t want to wait weeks to get an appointment, days for lab results, or even minutes on hold with a contact center. They expect a level of convenience similar to what’s available in retail and banking. And if they don’t get it? That’s what social media is for!

Successful providers already recognize that the status quo isn’t enough. One thing that sets these providers apart is a commitment to measuring the experience before, during, and after a service has been provided or an interaction has taken place. For example, many medical centers rely on the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey, a national standardized survey of care quality usually sent to patients via snail mail. A real-time, online experience would capture feedback more quickly so providers can take action.

Patients want to trust the advice their doctors give them, and see data that backs it up. They want streamlined experiences with less paperwork and bureaucracy, price transparency, and the technology options we discussed above. And they want to be treated as individuals who deserve better than one-size-fits-all service.

New players are a threat to traditional providers.

These high levels of customer dissatisfaction have created an opportunity for new entrants into the industry. 40% of consumers say they’d trust large retailers like Walmart or Target to manage their health, and 33% say they’d trust Google or Amazon to deliver their healthcare, primarily because they believe those companies can provide quality care and core benefits at a lower cost.

The potential for disruption is extremely high: consumers are dissatisfied and associate these brands with the exceptional customer experiences currently lacking in healthcare, and for having changed the landscape of multiple industries already. Each one is a force to be reckoned with.

Astute helps you measure and improve the patient experience.

With a range of customer engagement and Voice of the Customer (VoC) tools, Astute has what you need to diagnose issues with your current patient experience and then correct them.

Measure experience quality. From gathering real-time data to complement traditional HCAHPS surveys to collecting patient feedback about online interactions, Astute’s VoC solutions give both care providers and health insurance companies valuable insights while ensuring sensitive medical information is protected with our HITRUST certification.

Let patients self-serve. Build a better patient portal experience with conversational chatbots that can answer questions and help patients complete common transactions, like submitting a claim, finding a provider, making an appointment, or paying a bill. Not only does this provide 24/7 instant availability for your patients, it drastically reduces the volume of contacts to your call centers.

Automate tedious processes for your staff. The same AI and machine learning technology that underpins Astute’s chatbot can be leveraged in other processes across your organization. For example, you can automate responses to incoming emails about appointments, plan details, and more using our Email Virtual Assistant. Or, automate the insurance claims processing workflow with technology that can read and interpret relevant documentation.

Take a closer look at what Astute’s flexible customer engagement technology can do to revolutionize your patient experience. Schedule a live demo today.