Consumers are coming to healthcare interactions today with heightened expectations for personalized, easy, and convenient experiences. However, when consumers reach out to their healthcare provider, it’s usually emotionally charged and anything but easy. The stakes are high for healthcare consumers – increased premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and denied coverage for certain conditions. But the stakes are equally high for healthcare providers as they strive to drive higher revenue and better outcomes at lower interaction costs. So, what do health providers need to do to win over today’s healthcare consumers?
While the entire healthcare ecosystem continues to wrangle with market and regulatory uncertainty, one thing is certain: adapting to the new reality of the empowered healthcare consumer remains a massive challenge. In particular, many payers and providers still struggle to deliver the kind of customer care that members expect—seamless, effortless and personalized journeys from open enrollment and welcome season through to billing, claims, appeals and grievances, and chronic illness management. So, what’s the key to driving a centric approach in healthcare?
It takes a philosophically and culturally different approach to meet the needs and expectations of today’s healthcare consumer. After all, they’ve been dealing with digital disruptors such as Amazon and Apple for the past decade or more and have grown accustomed to a much more consumer-centric focus. It starts by viewing healthcare consumers as more than just members. Healthcare organizations must demonstrate that they value the member relationship and the person.
Not that payers and PBMs haven’t been trying to adapt to the new consumer-oriented business model. Most have adopted digital channels to help streamline the member/patient journey using self-service. However, self-service is limited to simple, straightforward interactions and questions. Once you orchestrate the easier, self-service part of the member journey, what are left are the more complex, higher-stakes interactions that come to your engagement center. Without the right individuals to handle the more personal, complex issues—regardless of whether the interactions are in voice, chat, email, or other channels—member satisfaction will remain low.
In a recent survey conducted by STARTEK, when asked to choose what their ideal customer service interaction would look like, 57 percent of consumers across all industry sectors in the survey want to speak with “an individual who cares about me personally and both answers my questions as well as offers insights.” That preference is even higher for healthcare consumers, where nearly two-thirds (65%) wish to interact with a human who cares about them and personalizes the interaction to meet their needs1.
Even in today’s digital society, consumers still want to talk to an individual especially when discussing certain topics that pertain to their health. Diagnosis, condition discussion, and complicated plan information are all complex issues where consumers prefer to speak with a knowledgeable and caring individual. Your engagement specialists (agents) must be prepared to handle these complex and emotional issues in a way that shows they care. This requires the right training and coaching around proven communication skills so that engagement specialists can:
Additionally, understanding channel preferences and reducing member effort across those channels all contribute to delivering a personalized experience at the right time within the member/provider interaction ecosystem.
With authentic human dialogue, supported by technology and the science of human communication, your organization can deliver a personalized engagement that satisfies members and gains their trust and loyalty.
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