By Arielle Trzcinski, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
Healthcare will remain forever changed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, consumer demand has shifted to convenient access through virtual care. Healthcare organisations must shift their approach to member and patient engagement from reactive to proactive to meet the needs of the new healthcare consumer and ensure future success in a post-pandemic world.
New entrants to healthcare will find a more worthy adversary in legacy incumbents. The likes of Amazon, Walmart and Oscar Health relied on the fact that the healthcare industry was slow to change. The pandemic accelerated healthcare organisations (HCOs) on their path to digital transformation in a matter of weeks. For example, barriers to adoption of virtual care such as lack of awareness, implementation and reimbursement were shattered as the US federal government touted the benefits of virtual care. In response to changing consumer sentiment towards virtual care, Forrester predicts that demand for virtual care in the US will soar beyond a billion visits in 2020. For HCOs to maintain a solid foothold in the healthcare market, they must prioritise their focus on a comprehensive digital front door strategy that engages consumers along their healthcare journey. The healthcare industry will evolve to one that is proactive, convenient and individualised.
Future success in healthcare will rely on a strategy that optimises experience for the new healthcare consumer. Forrester defines the digital front door as “an approach that optimises digital touchpoints across all phases of the healthcare journey so healthcare organisations can acquire, engage and retain customers more effectively.” Across digital touchpoints, customers must receive recommendations that are intuitive, right-sized, individualised and just in time, leading to productivity and revenue for the HCO through brand advocacy, loyalty and improved health outcomes for the customer. Remember that customers, not companies, determine if an experience is individualised.
Forrester found that 40 per cent of purchase influencers in healthcare said their firm plans to adopt new technology to enable it to change its business model to be more customer-centric. However, HCOs must be strategic about where they place their bets. To support the new healthcare consumer, Forrester recommends that HCOs:
• Focus on a holistic experience, not just support for the latest and greatest touchpoints. The key to a successful digital front door strategy is a frictionless experience. Customers base their perceptions on the sum of their experiences with your organisation, not a single interaction. While digital is key, it’s not the only aspect of the customer experience. Determine when a pure digital play versus hybrid approach is best at delivering value.
• Turn data collection into valuable insights. Forrester’s research shows that less than 50 per cent of HCOs in the US have a strategy in place to encourage data sharing. Most HCOs don’t offer incentives for data, despite interest from consumers. Robust data models are necessary to enable a proactive system that predicts potential health issues before they arise and to deliver engagement that is individualised to customers’ needs.
• Listen to your customer and keep listening. Embed the voice of the customer (VoC) into your approach, including a feedback loop about the experience. Forrester found that 83 per cent of HCOs in the US are not currently using a VoC programme. VoC programmes serve as a feedback loop for how well new technologies and experiences are meeting patients’ needs. Without a feedback mechanism, many HCOs’ digital initiatives will fail.
Find out more about Forrester’s research on Healthcare here.