Health care’s digital transformation has been hastened by many factors, not the least of which is competition from consumer-savvy retailers in the primary care space. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, CVS Health and Walgreens have deep pockets and technology budgets that dwarf those of hospitals and health systems.
This has enabled these disruptors to enjoy some unique advantages in geographic convenience, supply chain logistics, right-sized skilled staffing levels and marketing, notes Laura Kreofsky, vice president of strategy at Pivot Point Consulting, in a recent interview.
These market realities have made it imperative for hospitals and health systems to execute on their digital strategy and to leverage their competitive advantage by delivering a frictionless patient experience in the following areas, Kreofsky says.
3 Digital Transformation Challenges to Meet
1 | Improve access.
Concentrate on making care highly accessible and, where possible, self-service. Leveraging the full capabilities of your patient portal is just the beginning. Pay close attention to your digital front door and optimize your social media.
Integrate services wherever possible, including features such as find-a-doctor, real-time telehealth and service algorithms. Analyze the user experience through the lens of retail competitors, where it requires only a few clicks to find a care site that is open, close to home and provides the services consumers seek.
2 | Provide 5-star back-end support.
Providers should leverage their unique advantages in providing a spectrum of health care services by providing a more personalized back-end service experience. Build your web presence and develop a contact center and overall culture that emphasizes committed customer service.
Help patients find all the services they need and connect them with the specialists or other services they need within your organization.
3 | Make comprehensive care your differentiator.
Health systems provide a breadth and depth of services that retail providers don’t. Addressing the access and support components of the care experience will provide the stickiness and longitudinal services patients value.
Next, build out your continuum of care tailored to the needs of target populations by including the right mix of internal or community-based specialty and social service providers. This will be your differentiator.
How Hospitals Are Advancing Digital Transformation
Here are several examples of the ways health care organizations are advancing their digital transformation strategy to deliver better patient experiences.
Centralizing Call Center Operations for a Superior Customer Experience
In December, Southcoast Health, a community-based health system serving southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, opened a new patient service center. The facility began merging 37 small call centers into the new location with a single dedicated management team and a suite of new technologies to support the operation.
Previously, Southcoast’s fragmented approach to call center operations contributed to inconsistent performance and patient experience. Service metrics were not met consistently. In some areas, only 30% to 40% of calls were answered within the first 30 seconds. Early adopter clinics supported by the service center saw immediate performance improvement, including shortening phone answering times.
The service center employs technology to help with workforce management, speech analytics, call recording and callback assist.
Making Access Easier
IT and business leaders at Texas Children’s Hospital have made significant strides to increase access by enabling online scheduling and check-in. Last year, the hospital scheduled more than 1 million appointments online, with more than 700,000 patients accessing scheduling and care via Epic’s My Chart patient portal — a 55% increase in users since 2019, notes a report in HealthTech.
Broadening the Scope of Digital Transformation
University of Utah (UofU) Health has created a digital transformation road map to expand its vision for how to leverage technology to better serve patients. The plan consists of six “swim lanes,” notes CIO Donna Roach, including goals like digital outreach and improving the consumer experience. As part of the road map process, UofU Health has worked to standardize its telehealth offerings and is creating a Spanish-language patient portal as well as exploring how to better integrate internal resources with patient internet searches.