Chris Edwards Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, Conversa Health.
Chris Edwards Chief Marketing and Experience Officer, Conversa Health.

Something new is taking hold in healthcare. Here, you have an industry that has been operating around insurance reimbursement codes, doctor schedules and regulations. Yet, it had forgotten something along the way…the patient.

Can you imagine creating a category that does not have the customer at the center?

The good news is that the shift is happening – the consumerization of healthcare has been one of the most exciting business shifts in the last few years, and it will influence the way the entire industry operates in those to come. Consumers want easier access to health information, they demand a better experience and technology is enabling it.

That premise is what fuels the passion and culture of my team. Each employee is hyper-focused thinking about our client’s customers (i.e., a hospital’s patient population) and we are constantly creating ideas and innovative technology that can help healthcare think and behave differently.

Case in point:

  • The typical healthcare consumer visits their doctor’s office 2.7 times per year.
  • Once patients are there, the “personal encounter” lasts 14 minutes.
  • Between these visits are the real moments that matter for managing a patient’s health over time, yet very little to no interaction happens during this time.
  • This is the way the process has been for decades.

How could that scenario possibly create a meaningful relationship with a customer? That leaves a lot to be desired, and that’s why we have set out to use technology to make the relationship between care teams and their customers more meaningful. For example, our Digital CheckUps TM are clinically-intelligent, automated patient conversation experiences that are patient profiledriven. This innovative technology enables the consumer and their care provider to have ongoing dialogue via text/web with clinical context and relevance (many providers have referred to us as a “clinical artificial intelligence care navigator.”)

Aside from the obvious benefits of a customer-centric culture that marketers strive to achieve, a recent report from global research company Frost & Sullivan reinforces the rationale for our culture and technology focus, specifically in the healthcare sector:

  • Almost 69% of consumers in the US track their health symptoms.
  • 41% are sure that they will change their physicians if they are not allowed to access their health records.
  • 74% of patients appreciate receiving customized alerts and news feeds post care.
  • 89% of the US consumers surveyed believe that chronic condition management during care can also be improved with progressive patient engagement-related interventions, compelling 45% of providers to rank member (patient and employees) engagement programs as one of the top healthcare objectives for this year.

An Unlikely but Necessary Pairing: The Convergence of Technology, Customers and Healthcare

In recent years, we could see how technology can give people more control of their lives – smart homes, autonomous cars, etc. As consumers come to trust and rely on smart technology in almost every aspect of their lives, it becomes a natural progression to turn to digital monitoring for their healthcare as well.

For us, we are looking at how we can use these digital platforms to help consumers lead healthier, longer lives and facilitate communication with the doctors that assist them along the way. What if clinicians could receive a consumer’s information and provide live-time feedback on their health, allowing them to provide specific steps for action – without ever having to schedule an appointment?

The technology exists to allow people to be actively engaged in their own health, as opposed to passively reacting to a doctor’s diagnosis once a problem has already surfaced. Now, it is up to brands to deliver the technology to their consumers in a meaningful way – be that with CRM, an app, live-time diagnosing and /or doctor video conferences.

Listening. Learning. Leading.

One way my team and I are enabling this transformation is by creating more consumer/patient advisory work sessions in order to spend time with our client’s customers. For any marketing team, I would recommend that you set up these types of sessions with industry influencers, as it allows you to effectively collaborate with leaders in your field and create innovative solutions that solve problems across the board. The work sessions also allow us to develop our technology faster and scale more efficiently for their needs. Furthermore, we can then share the output and results of these collaborations across the company so that these insights permeate the culture.

We are learning that consumers are becoming more receptive to viewing and sharing healthcare information, as they want to actively participate during, pre-, and post-care. Using technology creates opportunities for both the consumer and the provider to act faster in order to manage care between the visits. As such, our team is to focus on that customer engagement that results in valuable and value-driven conversations between doctors and patients.

The overarching goal is to bring patients back from the outskirts of healthcare and make them – and their health – the center. These customer-centric and user-generated data ideas are not new to many marketers and brands, but they are concepts the healthcare industry is just beginning to adopt. We see the value an ongoing dialogue with our customers in the form a smoother ‘customer journey’ – and, for us, that translates to improved customer satisfaction scores, more efficient prospecting, improved creative messaging for inbound and outbound communication, additional layers of insight for the CRM, more engaging patient experiences with the Brand and ideas for new downstream revenue-driving programs.

We can’t afford to ignore the technology anymore, and marketers – with arsenals of digital tools and consumer data – are well-positioned to help lead the charge.