Healthcare Faces the Empowered Customer: Disruption at Its Best

February 12, 2015 Katherine Wells

Learning about the digital customer from retailers, healthcare works to reinvent itself

Image of man with multiple technology optionsSince today's customers have completed about 60% of their research before ever contacting you, it's no surprise that a 2014 global study by McKinsey finds that customer engagement [read digital customer experience] ranks first in both priority and spending.

According to Gartner’s “Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2015,” customer experience may be the most impactful area of innovation due to the abundance of personal digital technology, which is rapidly increasing customers’ expectations and demands.

Healthcare Faces the Empowered Consumer

Routinely these predictions and discussions are pointed at the retail industry which is focused on attracting and retaining shoppers on the path to purchase consumer goods. Similarly, the healthcare industry is experiencing the empowered customer. But unlike retail, this empowered customer is a newer phenomenon. Consumer driven health plans and advancements in technology, that allow for shopping comparisons, have moved more purchasing power to the individual.

As a result, the empowered consumer forces healthcare payers and providers to shift their thinking and business models to better meet expectations.

So now what? How can healthcare companies embrace this opportunity to improve their customer engagement?

1) Create Personalized Experiences

A one-size-fits-all or generic communications approach must give way to increasingly personalized digital experiences. Enabled enterprises will use both stored and dynamic preference-based data to provide self-serve experiences that are increasingly tailored to the needs and interests of specific demographic groups and eventually to the individual.

2) Incorporate Virtual Digital Assistants

The increasing influence of consumers who expect to have information proactively delivered or “presented” will accelerate the use of visually engaging and auditory approaches to online interactions. Gartner states that with “the ability to connect, gather, sort and process information better than the individual, digital assistant decision-making will start freeing up more strategic life events, taking on assistant roles, such as those of the travel agent, the financial advisor, the nurse, the attorney, the contractor, or the ‘wing man’.”

CodeBaby Virtual Health Assistants at the Hospital

3) Develop Insight-Based Relationships

As healthcare firms grow in their customer experience maturity and capabilities, they will improve insight-based relationships with customers. This involves gaining a deeper understanding about your customers needs, wants, desires, etc. via online communities, web-based two-way interactions as well as offline experiences to increase customer loyalty, and competitive differentiation. By listening and learning from these data-driven customer experiences, both positive and negative, healthcare providers and health insurance carriers can fully engage their consumers and gain the privilege of creating long-lasting relationships.

4) Invest in Cloud Computing

Some healthcare organizations have already taken advantage of cloud computing technologies for innovations in patient interactions. However, the cloud offers the potential for far greater transformations. As patient expectations increase and standards for care and delivery advance, the cloud can propel healthcare organizations forward by increasing agility, lowering costs, and improving patient engagement. Getting in the cloud allows providers to leverage the latest mobile smart apps, manage coordinated care from anywhere, and take advantage of the latest technologies to provide an interactive patient experience.

Healthcare Must Become the New Retail

The healthcare system is witnessing a new age in which consumers have transformed from passive recipients to active participants. Technology plays a critical role in this ongoing transformation. Patients will increasingly influence and dictate the way in which they interact with providers and others in their healthcare ecosystem, just like they do today in the multichannel retail environment.

CodeBaby Characters in a Retail Environment

The "healthy" healthcare organizations will be those that embrace patient empowerment, customer centricity, and new technological advancements. They will be able to quickly maneuver and leap ahead of the competition regardless of ongoing health system disruptions.


For more on this topic, check out:

Top 3 Customer Experience Demands of 2015

Customers Want Self-Service





About the Author

Katherine Wells

Katherine has 25 years in high-tech marketing, product management and corporate communications. She is a gadget-girl, which is one of the reasons she is passionate about connecting people with innovative solutions and technology that solve real problems. Her objective at CodeBaby is to help businesses increase conversions and build lasting loyalty by putting their customer/consumer in control of their user experience. Connect with Katherine on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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