13 Jun 2022 - Customer Experience // By Raheel Retiwalla

What is Omnichannel Engagement and How is it Impacting Healthcare?

Today’s consumers not only expect personalized and consistent experiences, they demand them. Providing traditional customer experiences (CX) to a modern consumer will no longer suffice. To efficiently cultivate more compelling customer experiences, organizations will need to look to the adoption of emerging technologies to create seamless journeys via omnichannel engagement.   

What exactly is omnichannel?

At its most basic, omnichannel is a multichannel approach that focuses on the entire customer journey by delivering seamless engagement across the board. 

With 73% of all customers using multiple channels during their buyer journey, omnichannel has traditionally been at the forefront for retail providers. Today, however, it has quickly become a critical business strategy for organizations of all industries including healthcare. 

In this post, we’ll briefly discuss the changing role of customer experience in healthcare and how implementing an omnichannel engagement framework can help you gain a competitive edge.

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The Changing the Face of Customer Experience in Healthcare

When the digital era first emerged, no one anticipated the magnitude of change that would come through the combination of new technology, particularly computers and the Internet. With access to unlimited data and new modes of communication, today’s rapidly digital technologies are changing the way consumers interact with service providers.

How does this apply to healthcare?

Traditionally, a patient would visit his/her healthcare provider in a reaction to an illness, receive proper treatment, and return for a follow-up as needed. The sheer resolution of the problem would equate to satisfactory customer service experience.

Today, however, patients expect more.

Customer experience in healthcare has shifted from reactive to proactive and focuses on the holistic approach to treating a patient. It encompasses everything from the waiting room wait times to the quality of the medical treatment to the convenience of the online portal and beyond.

Healthcare organizations are expected to provide consumers with consistent communication and a seamless engagement experience across every channel of interaction.

While many may see this level of engagement as daunting, best in class organizations are leveraging data to provide transparency to deliver hyper-personalized experiences through consistent communication and self-service capabilities. In doing so, they are not only delighting consumers but reducing costs while maximizing revenue.

Implementing Omnichannel Engagement in Healthcare

The omnichannel engagement model proactively engages healthcare consumers with consistent access to healthcare information, communications, and recommendations at the right time, via a right channel. Omnichannel experiences include all interactions between a consumer and his/her provider 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 Closer Look: Post-Surgical Follow Up

To get a better understanding of how to leverage omnichannel engagement in healthcare, let’s take a look at an example of interaction with two surgery patients, Katie and David.

Katie tore a tendon and upon a closer examination, 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, Katie was provided with paper instructions for post-op care at home 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. David’s procedure went well however, unlike Katie, he was discharged with no paperwork because his healthcare provider leveraged an omnichannel engagement model for all post-surgical care. His provider stored David’s communications preferences across text, mobile, and 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. 

Productive Edge's Methodology Facilitates Transparency and Enhanced Customer Experiences

Omnichannel engagement provides a real-time, holistic view of your customer’s journey by connecting multiple data sources.

By creating real-time data transparency and access, healthcare organizations can empower employees to better understand customer expectations and create customized, effective experiences.

If you’re still on the fence about implementing an omnichannel engagement strategy,  we’ve created a framework to help you execute digital-first healthcare which includes:

  1. Reimagining the patient journey by clearly defining critical metrics around cost, quality, and experience.
  2. Prioritizing 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. Defining critical data, insights, and activation rules for each defined use case to form the backlog for a consumer 360 data, insights, and activation hub.
  4. Creating a service blueprint that maps the operating model for delivering digital-first healthcare that maps people, process, and technology impact.
  5. Defining associated digital initiatives and roadmap based on identified priorities.

Want to learn more about omnichannel engagement and accelerating your digital transformation journey? Schedule your free half-day workshop with one of our experts today to see how Productive Edge can help your organization deliver more adaptable and dynamic customer experiences.

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What is Omnichannel Engagement and How is it Impacting Healthcare?