Why Patients and Providers Are Key to Healthcare Digital Transformation

Personalization and culture change are essential elements for healthcare organizations looking to take the next step with technology.

DaVita Kidney Care was concerned about the customer experience of patients who visited its outpatient dialysis centers. The company received low customer loyalty scores from patients at its more than 2,000 centers across the U.S. It needed to improve the customer experience and lift its standing in patient surveys.

Kate Collyer, an enterprise mobility management channel specialist at Cisco Systems, said DaVita’s effort to boost the patient experience included significant technology enhancements. Cisco helped DaVita offer Wi-Fi service to nearly 200,000 patients, and allowed Apple devices to get priority access on the network via a technology called FastLane. These changes improved the customer experience by giving users better service, Collyer said during a panel discussion at the CDW summit on “Transforming the Customer Experience with Digital Modernization.”

DaVita improved its customer service while keeping its eye on key business needs. The company wanted to continue to expand its operations while ensuring that patients received high-quality care and that its centers maintained compliance with health information regulations. The company achieved these objectives by preconfiguring network hardware to meet operational requirements as well as compliance mandates, so that when a technician went to a DaVita location, the network equipment was easy to set up. “Plug it in, you’re set, ready to go,” Collyer said.

DaVita’s efforts to transform the experience of its patients and technicians reflect strategies that Collyer and other panelists recommended at the summit. To truly change their customers’ experience, organizations should focus on how they want to interact with customers and what they want patients to feel. Likewise, organizations must keep in mind how field employees experience mobile while on the job. This approach is essential as IT leaders support efforts to deliver an optimal user experience regardless of location or device, according to the panelists.

Healthcare organizations can use digital technology, especially mobile solutions, to transform the patient experience by focusing on three key objectives, the panelists said. A key goal is to create unique and customized experiences for patients. Organizations also should give employees the applications and tools they need to succeed. Further, they must orient their cultures around how they want to improve the user experience over the long term.

SIGN UP: Get more news from the HealthTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks

Target Customization for Staff and Patient Satisfaction

In today’s always-on mobile world, patients expect information, service and results instantaneously. They also have been conditioned by various online services to expect personalization. To transform the customer experience, organizations of all sizes need to meet those expectations, the panelists said.

Preston Harris, a mobile wireless senior field solution architect for CDW, said meeting customer expectations requires “delivering the right information the right way at the right time.”

“At this point, personalization is an expectation,” he said. “It is not an option if you want to get adoption.”

Customization increases user satisfaction and likely leads to hospital staff being more invested in their jobs and willing to deliver feedback on their experience so that it can be improved even further. “It’s that dialogue between the people doing the work and the people creating the applications that makes all that magic happen,” Harris said.

Another key element to personalization is anticipating customers’ needs. Panelists highlighted Amazon’s ability to predict the products customers want and then deliver them quickly as a prime example.

Rent the Runway, which allows shoppers to rent designer outfits that they return days after they wear them, also sets a good example. The company makes shopping for clothes easy and customizable.

Both Amazon and Rent the Runway personalize the customer experience by turning purchases into a service that is predictive and delivered automatically. Customers don’t even have to think about it.

All of this customization requires data analytics about customers, said Collyer. Analytics help organizations find out what customers and employees need so they can deliver products or services as quickly as possible. That can happen in retail or in healthcare, where doctors need as much information as possible to be effective and efficient in delivering care, she said.

Such tools are within reach for small and midsize organizations, Collyer said, especially from partners such as Cisco Meraki, whose cloud-based wireless solutions were originally designed for businesses with distributed branch offices and small IT teams.

Meraki’s platform allows small healthcare organizations to take the information their networks gather through analytics from heat maps and foot traffic to “create even smarter, faster-learning environments” so that organizations can be more effective in how they deliver wireless services, she said.

Involve Healthcare Staff in the Design Phase

Offering a personalized patient experience is impossible if healthcare staff do not have the technologies they need. Users must have the right applications, data and algorithms to transform the overall experience.

Organizations must think through their applications’ intended use. Users should be able to easily employ an app for its envisioned purpose and quickly get access to the data they need to help customers. Organizations also must consider which devices an app needs to run on. Consider if an app could work on a variety of devices or a singular device invented for that purpose.

Further, organizations need to make sure users receive training so they can help customers and improve their experience.

Adoption is an essential element of this equation. An organization’s leaders must understand how and why users employ an app or why they refuse to do so, Harris said.

“If you haven’t been out there, shoulder to shoulder with your front line, it is very difficult” to increase adoption of tools that will help customers, he said. Organizations need to include the people who will actually use an app — such as nurses for clinical communications software — in the decision-making process for an app’s design. Involving users in the design phase boosts their ability to improve the user’s experience once the app is live.

Create a Culture That Breaks Down Innovation Barriers 

Healthcare organizations that transform the user experience not only must work through short-term challenges, but also focus on long-term initiatives that will bear fruit in three or five years, Collyer said. The key is to think about “what if” scenarios that can trip up an organization as it moves toward its long-term goals.

Orienting an organization’s culture around long-term objectives can help it improve customer service and, ultimately, the user experience, she said. Organizational leaders should consider their ultimate objectives and map from the current state to that goal.

Harris added that leaders in IT and other departments must “create an environment where this transformative experience can actually occur.” That requires collaboration among departments.

“They need teamwork to hand off that baton. If that’s not there, then it’s darn near impossible,” he said. “The biggest challenge is a lot of stopping and starting. Dropping the baton, or not providing a great place for those creating the experience, to really work together to align on developing something like an omnichannel experience.”

monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images
Nov 22 2017