Digital Initiatives are Key to Boosting Customer Engagement In Healthcare

Effectively leveraging data and striving toward digitization are the keys to creating that great customer experience that boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty, improving retention and ultimately increasing profitability.

(Image credit: Dollar Photo Club.)

Healthcare organizations are in full-on growth mode, looking to enlarge their customer base while adding to their bottom line. While this isn’t anything new, healthcare companies now operate in a business climate where growth and profitability have never been more critical. Simplifying and improving the customer experience while providing better and more personalized information and more efficient service will help healthcare organizations improve customer engagement. Today, effectively leveraging data and striving toward digitization are the keys to creating that great customer experience that boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty, improving retention and ultimately increasing profitability.

Care delivery methods are changing, and communication is improving. At the same time, digital technologies—and the way they impact healthcare processes—are shifting. In order to boost customer engagement, healthcare organizations will have to improve their digital efforts specifically aimed at optimizing practices and improving patient care.

Healthcare Providers:

The vast majority of healthcare providers are already well underway with their digitization efforts, digitizing to improve care, speed up processes and reduce costs. Efforts include giving internal stakeholders electronic access to clinical data, tools to reduce administrative tasks, computerized clinical support systems and remote patient monitoring capabilities. Other digital priorities are directed toward external stakeholders, including providing remote patient access, patient portals, medication reminders and therapy follow-ups, and remote access to diagnostic testing results.

By establishing sophisticated digital processes on the inside of the organization, providers are building firm foundations for customer engagement. New digital capabilities simplify interactions. If healthcare becomes too complex, a typical individual doesn’t understand it and won’t engage with his or her healthcare provider. Today, the smart phone is becoming the channel of choice for many consumers. Many people do most of their transactions and communications with their healthcare providers when they have a free moment, from trains when they’re on the way to work, for instance. Organizations that want to better engage their customers need to make every interaction easy and convenient, making it simple and intuitive to reach a contact center.

Healthcare Payers:

Healthcare payer organizations also recognize the critical imperative to digitize. Many payer organizations have already major digitization initiatives and are now capitalizing on new efficiencies and capabilities.

Even though the promises of digitization are organization-wide, focusing on customer engagement through digitization initiatives will ensure that investments pay off. Payers that plug digital efforts into wellness initiatives will develop a cycle of health improvement that will benefit providers, employers and individuals. In the same way that savvy retailers personalize sales messages based on past behavior and preferences, forward-thinking payers will leverage data and analytics to provide personalized service and messaging to their customers, like suggesting lifestyle changes to optimize their health.

John Hancock's Vitality program uses Fitbit devices.

Wearable devices such as Fitbit can be integrated into health insurers’ engagement and wellness incentive programs.

Health and wellness initiatives that are informed and enabled by digitization have the potential to reinvent the payer care and business model. Exercise data, for instance, could be integrated with incentive programs and organizations may glean real savings through reduced claims and improved health outcomes.

Both healthcare providers and payer organizations will see customer engagement improvements by digitizing. Digital capabilities will enable providers to reduce costs and improve profitability through increased revenue realization, while providing an overall better standard of care. Digitized payer organizations will boost customer engagement through social media platforms, improving sales channels and responding to the growth of the individual coverage market.

The digital enterprise stands to improve customer engagement exponentially based upon improved use of data and analytics. Infrastructure improvements are essential to digital efforts. We recommend approaching infrastructure improvements in small, incremental steps to enable organizations to build upon successes and experience.

Editor’s Note: Syama Sundar also contributed to this article. Sundar is the global head of healthcare business for TCS’ Insurance and Healthcare group.  Mr. Sundar has over twenty years’ experience in managing strategic global relationships, establishing and executing business and IT strategy, and implementing operational efficiency improvements for transforming healthcare and insurance organizations. 

Magna Hadley // Magna Hadley is Global Head, Healthcare Domain Practice, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Hadley has over 25 years of experience in defining and leading the delivery of strategic business solutions and technology-enabled transformations. She is internationally-recognized as a dynamic strategist of business growth and profitability and has extensive experience in leading large-scale systems implementations, driving initiatives to optimize efficiencies and maintaining performance quality.

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