We live in a high-touch, consumer-obsessed world. People have instant access to data on their cell phones or tablets, and companies have massive amounts of data to review about their customer's habits. For example, when someone goes into a retailer like Target, they can look at a product, immediately search online with their phone to compare prices, get reviews and price options. They can even decide to order the product from Amazon or a different carrier online for home delivery, while standing in the store, in a matter of minutes. But when it comes to health care, it's a different story.
Fundamentally, the health care industry is flawed. It was designed to focus on what's best for the institution, not the individual. For example, when a doctor orders an MRI, does the patient ask for a list of imaging centers to compare the cost? Rarely. But when a person has a problem with their car, they will usually get estimates from multiple mechanics to compare prices.
There are many companies that are obsessed with customer satisfaction. The mission of Southwest Airlines is “dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.” Amazon's tagline is “Earth's Most Customer-centric Company.” These companies are often cited for having some of the highest customer satisfaction scores.
The way for health care companies to secure high customer satisfaction scores and generate loyalty is for the industry to take a fundamentally different approach to how we interact with and serve consumers.
One such company is MedSavvy, a member of the Cambia family of companies that was created as an online solution for people to compare prescription drug options. A patient can quickly look up their prescribed medication to find out if there are more effective or cheaper options available to treat their condition. They can also see cost and coverage based on their health plan, and connect directly with a licensed pharmacist if they have questions.
When someone has a cough or needs an x-ray, they can turn to HealthSparq, another member of the Cambia family of companies. HealthSparq is an online transparency and navigation tool that helps patients compare costs, quality, providers and services—and even schedule appointments—all in one place. Everything is personalized based on their unique health plan benefits and deductible status. And, since not all health care needs can be handled in just a single visit, such as pregnancy or surgery, HealthSparq also helps people understand the time involved for related services and recovery from beginning to end, so they can plan accordingly.
Personalizing health care
Progressive health care organizations, focused on improving people's experiences, should take a human-centered design approach when creating seamless ways to interact with people and their families. For instance, front-line health care employees should be empowered to provide services that not only remove burdens but also make their lives easier, such as arranging for meals on wheels delivery.
Everything a health care organization does should revolve around one primary goal: making health care more consumer friendly. This can be accomplished by making sure that all touchpoints provide a positive experience and that the answer to the below questions are in the affirmative:
- Is it easy to use? Can the individual easily accomplish the task they want?
- Is it personally relevant? Does the organization understand each person and each unique situation?
- Is the person empowered? Does he or she feel confident and in control of their health care choices?
- Does it deliver value? Would the person use the service again or recommend it to a friend?
- Who is advocating for the patient or member? Does the person feel that his/her health care provider has their personal interest in mind?
Four ways to create a consumer-obsessed corporate culture
Here are four questions to ask that will help turn your health care organization into a consumer-oriented organization.
- Is the company creating a customer-obsessed internal culture? I worked at ESPN for many years, where I found a mission-driven company obsessed “To serve sport fans. Anytime. Anywhere.” This mission statement was on our badges, business cards and the walls of our conference rooms. Frequently we would stop meetings and ask the question “are we meeting the customer's needs?”
- Is the product what the customer wants? Companies should streamline processes for consumers. The goal should never be to put the consumer in the middle of financial interactions between their doctor, health insurer, hospital or therapist with billing, prior-authorizations or coverage questions. Streamlining complex processes internally for consumer benefit is essential.
- Do employees, partners and vendors speak the same language? Everyone in the company and its ecosystem needs to deliver a consistent message that centers around providing a superior customer experience.
- Does your company follow the 70-20-10 rule? 70 percent of an organization's time should be spent on the execution of core business functions; 20 percent should be focused on near-term innovation and advances; and 10 percent of time carved out for out-of-the-box and creative thinking on ways to change how you service consumers, change lives and ignite innovative company changes.
If the health care industry can adopt the same mindset of companies like Lyft, USAA and Federal Express, putting the person at the center of each experience, everyone benefits. The key to success is based on the ability to create a mission-driven organization which is dedicated to transforming the consumer experience.
To learn more about Cambia Health Solutions and its family of companies, visit CambiaHealth.com.