Improve health plan member experiences: 3 tech tips

November 15, 2016

Creating a comprehensive customer experience doesn’t happen overnight, but the key to achieving it comes from taking a “bone deep” approach.

Having a strong customer experience (CX) cuts down costs, diminishes administrative spending, increases patient and member retention and also improves patients’ ability to make better decisions. Creating a comprehensive customer experience doesn’t happen overnight, but the key to achieving it comes from taking a “bone deep” approach.

Bone deep means developing a customer experience strategy that goes even further than the sales and marketing departments. It includes everyone from clinicians to IT to c-level executives. While they seem out of place, front, middle and back offices need to play a part in the customer experience. The same goes for a healthcare organization’s CX technologies-which should be comprised of all the technologies that help develop a customer who is engaged in their health.

Here are three ways healthcare organizations can use technology to enhance their customer experience:

1. Building the customer relationship

The groundwork for strong customer relationships lies in the data. Tracking customer and product histories as well as using customer analytics allows organizations to gain an inside look into how different patients interact with a payer. Learning and adapting to customers’ preferences boosts engagement and creates trust.

To support relationship development, organizations need the right infrastructure in place. An engagement architecture consists of tools that analyze and assess customers-from campaign automation to interaction management capabilities. Improved data management and integration help deliver important patient information in a timely manner.

Building a strong relationship also comes from a strong product. Major medical needs play a significant role in product design, so traditional self-service tools such as transparency and member portals become an important part of the CX blueprint. Choosing a product’s settings is also something most customers are used to doing themselves, so it’s important to create a user-friendly interface.

2. Improving customer engagement

Adjusting behavior is key to care management. Customers are often confused and unfamiliar with their options when it comes to how they should be taken care of. And lack of information and low levels of interest mean they are less proactive at taking care of their own health.

Healthcare organizations’ current communication methods-phone calls or letters-do little to engage customers. These channels don’t cater to customer needs and provide only a one-sided interaction. Having engaged and informed customers help manage costs and improve patient care, but the same engagement approach doesn’t work for everyone.

Most patients are treated in the same way without taking individual needs into account, putting a damper on engagement. Customized multi-channel methods, driven by customer data, are necessary to develop personalized messages and ultimately drive engagement.

But, in order for this data to be useful, it needs to be shared across the entire organization-siloed data won’t do you any good.  When data is integrated throughout the ecosystem (pharma, clinical and payer) organizations are able to improve patient care.

3. Taking an integrated approach

It is critical for organizations to have their sales, marketing, network and care management teams work together to gain a better understanding of the impact and cost of the product being sold and what can be serviced.

In order to take full advantage of all CX technologies, healthcare organizations must implement a comprehensive approach that touches every department. When the customer experience is the focus of an organization, the loyalty and long-term value of a customer will continue to increase.

Will Hinde is a senior director at business and technology consulting firm West Monroe Partners and leader of the firm’s Healthcare practice. He has more than 20 years of experience partnering with a wide variety of healthcare organizations to create business value via strategic business and technology solutions.

Chris Althoff is a senior director with West Monroe Partners and a member of the Healthcare practice. He has consulted and collaborated with healthcare executives for more than 15 years to inspire a shared vision and drive large-scale business and technology transformation