13 Jun - Customer Experience // By Raheel Retiwalla

What is omnichannel engagement and how is it impacting healthcare?

Today’s consumers expect personalized, convenient experiences. Several industries have adopted technologies to provide a seamless experience for their customers across multiple platforms.

Omnichannel has been a buzzword across industries with consumer-facing brands such as retail and financial services. In the context of healthcare, this methodology provides patients and consumers with consistent communication and a seamless engagement experience across any channel they use to interact with the healthcare organization. 

By utilizing data to provide transparency, enabling self-service options, and delivering consistent customer communications, and personalized experiences, organizations across the financial services industry and retail industry have proven a model to reduce overhead costs while reducing customer friction. At this point, the healthcare industry has a significant opportunity to learn from and adopt similar experiences.

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Omnichannel in Healthcare

The omnichannel healthcare consumer engagement model proactively engages consumers with consistent access to healthcare information, communications, and recommendations anytime and anywhere. Omnichannel experiences include all interactions between a consumer and your organization including in-person communication, digital channels, and self-service experiences – all revolving around consumers’ preferences and needs at a particular episodic moment in time or long-term longitudinal engagement.

A successful omnichannel strategy should deliver consistent information, actionable insights, recommendations, and communication across all relevant channels to all appropriate parties.

An Example: Post-Surgical Follow Up

Katie tore a tendon, and her doctor determined she needed surgery. The surgery went well with no complications. Katie’s doctor’s office still operates on traditional healthcare follow-up procedures. Upon discharge, the discharge team gave Katie printed at-home instructions for post-op care and a reminder card for follow-up appointments. In the days following surgery, Katie was responsible for her post-surgical care at home and remembering her follow-up appointments. 

David had the same surgery as Katie. His procedure went well without any complications, but David’s doctor’s office leveraged an omnichannel health center follow-up for post-surgical care. David is sent home without any paperwork or reminders upon discharge because the healthcare organization has invested in comprehensive data-driven omnichannel engagement. The organization is well aware of David’s communications preferences across text, mobile, or email and has converted data across the care continuum into actionable insights. The system also prompts David’s care team at the right time with the right recommended actions in the channel that is relevant to them. 

The day after surgery, a nurse calls David to assess his condition, answer any questions, and ensure proper care. He also receives a text reminder about an upcoming follow-up appointment and a call informing him his prescriptions are ready for pick up. David receives emails with a personalized post-care checklist every day for two weeks following his procedure. He also can receive text reminders for each task throughout the day. 

David receives another call the following day because his prescriptions had yet to be picked up. David misses the call, which prompts a voicemail message. On the third day, David still has not picked up his prescriptions which prompts a nurse to call David directly, check-in, and explain the importance of the medication. 

The Impact

The two examples provide a clear difference in the follow-up approach. The second example puts the patient at the center of the follow-up plan by ensuring that David is engaged with the right information at the right time through the most appropriate channel for him. The omnichannel approach demonstrated in David’s use case provides the patient with proper care beyond the walls of his healthcare provider. David can feel in control of his health while receiving follow up from his trusted providers. 

While omnichannel engagement in healthcare improves the patient experience, it goes beyond that to provide tangible results for the provider. First, proper follow-up care reduces the risk of post-op complications and readmission. In many ways, post-op care doubles as preventative care. When complications arise, the patient will need further care that will cost both the patient, the provider, and the payer. All three parties have much to gain by reducing the risk as much as possible. 

Next, setting up an omnichannel health center enables employees to access and act on information to best serve patients across multiple communication channels. Instead of frustrating patients and wasting time asking the same questions, healthcare employees can access essential information immediately, saving both the organization’s time and the patient’s. 

Finally, by including self-service options, you will also increase organizational efficiency and reduce friction for your patients. By offering mobile bill pay, online appointment scheduling, and virtual access to medical records, you’re empowering your patients to take ownership of their care in times and places convenient for them. Additionally, you are saving time for your clinical staff by reducing the number of calls that could be self-serviced. This saves your patients time and allows your employees to tackle more complex consumer and patient requests. 

How Do You Get Started?

We’ve created a framework for organizations to execute digital-first healthcare:

  1. Reimagine the patient journey, including defining critical metrics around cost, quality, and experience.
  2. Prioritize high value use cases for self-service digital enablement through a digital front door, opportunities to digitally enhance interactions for each stakeholder, and automation use cases that reduce friction and augment human tasks.
  3. For each use case defined in the previous step, define associated data, insights, and activation rules that will form the backlog for a consumer 360 data, insights, and activation hub.
  4. Create a service blueprint that maps the operating model for delivering digital-first healthcare that maps people, process, and technology impact.
  5. Define associated digital initiatives and roadmap based on identified priorities. 

Not sure where you should focus or need help moving forward? Visit our healthcare hub for more information and schedule your free half-day workshop with our experts! 

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What is omnichannel engagement and how is it impacting healthcare?