5 Ways to Enhance Customer Experience in the Healthcare Industry

Do you know a hospital where you can leave a voice message for patients, wishing them a speedy recovery? Did your hospital ever confuse you with somebody else because they hadn't implemented an effective CRM solution and hand you the wrong report? Have you ever been frustrated trying to find a phone number where you can inquire about a patient who is undergoing treatment? Are you used to getting reminders of your next health check-up schedule or your dad’s dialysis date? Did you ever feel anxious about not knowing your baby’s next vaccination date?

Most of us have experienced these kind of situations in some point of our lives and felt frustrated and helpless. As a worried son or spouse or a friend we often face endless anxious hours trying to figure out the condition of a patient. This becomes particularly annoying when you are outside the four walls of a healthcare facility or even worse if you live abroad. Choosing a healthcare provider is often influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations and individual experiences can play a crucial role in determining a provider’s success in attracting patients.

Is it a case for CRM?
There are legal and ethical conflicts in using the word “Customer” for a patient. But for all practical purposes they are indeed the paying consumers of healthcare related services, and their satisfaction is the key to a provider’s business growth. It is time that healthcare consumers borrow concepts from the strategy of a successful CRM solution to demonstrate empathy, responsiveness and respect towards their consumers - who are incidentally patients and their family members or attendants. This little extra, which goes beyond clinical and administrative competence, can give them an opportunity to gain trust and loyalty of their patients.

Improving emotional connections
There are several steps which providers can take to bridge the gap between providing top of the line treatment and making every patient feel unique and special.

Proactive managed care programs - Chronically ill patients usually visit a fixed healthcare facility for regular check-up and procedures. The scheduling of these is often not managed pro-actively by the provider. Reminders and preference based scheduling can go a long way in building lasting relationship with a patient. This holds true as well for patients subscribed to wellness programs, health screening programs and the ones who are expected for routine check-ups after a major surgery.

Assigning a single point contact for family and attendants of In-Patients - Assigning a single contact phone number for admitted patients can go a long way in reducing the anxiety of family members. This number may be handled by agents who can perform multiple functions like keeping a message, connecting the nursing stuff or physician and providing billing information.

Capture personal preferences and information on family members - In a typical Pharma CRM solutions certain personal information of patients like communication preferences, list of close family members, emergency contact and other demographic information may be captured. This would basically be an extension of the patient master with information stored specifically to facilitate personalized services.

Communicate achievements, breakthrough cases and educational content - It is important to keep the patient in loop about the provider even when he or she is not undergoing any treatment. Typically breakthrough surgeries, new facilities and other educational contents may be shared based on the patient’s demographics and preferences.

Capture the voice of patients - Capturing feedback from the patient and/or family members and managing their grievances is as relevant to healthcare as any other type of service. This would give the patients a sense of inclusiveness.

The Way forward
Imagine visiting a virtual information lobby on your iPad or smartphone to check the progress of your ailing father while working in another part of the world.

Imagine being reminded of your next health screening date or your spouse’s next check-up schedule through a SMS. Imagine using your smartphone to check your new born child’s next vaccination date.

This wish list can go on. Technologically, it is not a distant dream for smart healthcare providers to implement solutions that can dramatically improve their emotional connect with their patients.

The forward looking providers would look for such innovations in the near future to establish a lasting emotional comfort in their consumers and eventually attract more patients through referrals and recommendations. Implementing an effective CRM solution will surpass everyone's expectations by facilitating new marketing strategies, better customer service, social media analytics and future proof customer strategies.