27 Oct 2015

The Healthcare Industry has but 3 main customers. So is Customer Experience (CX) really necessary?

The healthcare industry is fairly complex. Yet in the nature of its customer segmentation it can be really simple.

There are three chief customers of the healthcare industry – patients, doctors and caregivers. Yes there are a lot others, paramedics, nursing staff, pharmacists, and of course an entire pharmaceutical industry that thrives on ‘improving the quality of life’.

So if we look at the three chief customers, why would the industry bother with Customer Experience? And yet this is a space, where because of so much human to human interaction, raw emotions and touchpoints are really ‘touch’ points, that a sensitively designed Customer Experience can make a world of a difference.

For a sector that is into healing, the healthcare industry comes up with fractured or virtually nil solutions in this arena and most of the efforts are mere Band-Aid effort.

So let’s look at these three customers for a moment.

The Patient of today is also the consumer of today

The healthcare industry is looking in the eye of a newer breed of patients who are no longer the passive voices of ill health willing – to be compliant to what the doctor ordered. They are the quick, fast, connected customers. They want quick answers, quick solutions and quick relief. They cannot wait. If something can be done remotely, that’s what they prefer to a physical interaction. What is the healthcare industry doing about these? Poor connectivity, antiquated database systems and lack of telemedicine initiatives keeps the juggernaut of patient care slow and slothful.

Meet the doctor. He is a demanding customer too.

Today’s doctor too is a customer. With increasing pressure on the service levels demanded the doctor today is also more demanding of the facilities in which he functions. Hygiene, security and good nursing care is a must. If he doesn’t get it, he is likely to move on, to another establishment or set up his own.

Here’s the caregiver. Who is taking care of him?

Then there is the caregiver – the one who actually accompanies the patient and nurses him or her back to health. Today this breed is a well-read species, willing to consult another doctor or at least the internet for a second opinion.

For the sake of this post, let’s say that Customer Experience for this industry means giving each of these customers just one important things that will make their lives easier.

For the patient – quicker turnarounds.

We say Get Well Soon to a person who is sick. What are we doing so that that actually happens? There are ways in which speedier healthcare can make many a patient’s lives easier. Telemedicine, phone consulting, video conferencing – read that as a Goog
le hangout, easier follow up for smaller issues – all these can make the patient care and compliance much easier. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and even private practices of doctors need to factor in these.

(More on this in this well-written Forbes article –

http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2013/12/20/miracle-cure-driving-patient-satisfaction-for-hospital-and-healthcare-customers/)

For the doctor – A prescription for success

Get the unnecessary out of the way and let the doctor concentrate on his core competence – the discharging of his medical knowledge and therapy. Can hospitals and healthcare institutions make access to patient records and databases easier? Can they make patient care safer and secure and less prone to infection? Can they make the doctor’s world of consulting more efficient? Combating a disproportionate doctor-patient ratio is one part of the battle (especially for doctors in India) but paving the road to efficiency means you have more productive medicine men.

For the caregiver – More information. Greater care.

For a campaign we did for a drug for Alzheimer’s, we decided to talk to the caregivers. What did we give the caregivers? A day off. Literally. We ensured they had help for a day so that they could take time off from their full-time duties of looking after a person with Alzheimer’s.

Similarly support groups, access to more information; more understanding and deeper compassion for the caregivers will actually make patient care easier. And this does not mean time invested by the doctor alone. A second level person canbe the disburser of information and counseling and it would still do wonders. Not only would this result in greater patient compliance but also better patient outcomes.

So to come back to my point, does the healthcare industry need Customer Experience? Well, without it how are you planning to look after your three chief customers?

2 thoughts on “The Healthcare Industry has but 3 main customers. So is Customer Experience (CX) really necessary?”

  1. Interesting. With the nascent stage at which the cx is today, there are many more complex factors. For a pharma marketers work at cx is more difficult. More on this one over a cup of coffee….

  2. Roopal… Happy to discuss (coffee being important) But seriously, besides healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry also needs to wake up to CX. Do await my post on that.

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