Pre-COVID, healthcare organizations were already shifting to a digital-first experience to meet patient needs and outpace their competition. While the HLS industry has a reputation for slow technology adoption—often due to its emphasis on data compliance and security regulations—the landscape is evolving to serve a younger audience.
A 2020 survey found that over 50% of 18-38 year-olds carry out online transactions with healthcare companies. Startups like PlushCare enable you to book an online appointment with an accredited doctor (regulated by user reviews) and receive diagnoses and prescriptions in 15 minutes.
The COVID effect: From evolution to revolution
Across the healthcare landscape, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating widespread change. And these changes are pushing HLS enterprises to introduce digital transformation strategies to meet customer expectations during the new normal.
Even providers who didn’t offer telehealth services before the crisis are rushing to implement remote-video technology to maintain patient-care standards and compensate for revenue lost through elective surgeries and other services that are on hold for the time being. However, while outpatient clinicians have been quick to adopt telemedicine, the acute care side of HLS is still catching up.
In any case, once the pandemic subsides, many people will be extremely hesitant to return to brick-and-mortar facilities for treatment. Hospitals and patients alike will push for remote care to remain a permanent staple of U.S. healthcare.
As a global community, we’re only at the inception of the incredible improvements that technology can bring to patient care. From enhancing patient communication to relieving the burdens of the healthcare ecosystem, we have a unique opportunity to empower the HLS industry with the connected, personalized experiences found in other verticals.
Balancing personalization and privacy
For most industries, personalization is simple and straightforward—the more behavioral and CRM data you have on a customer, the more effectively you’re able to curate a 1:1 digital experience for them. But in the healthcare sector, the precious personal information organizations possess can create conflict around using data to improve online experiences.
Explicit consent is non-negotiable. To give patients a connected, personalized experience—where content and product recommendations are tailored to individual preferences and priorities—healthcare firms can’t ethically use health or financial profiles. Instead, they should focus their efforts on delivering the right content to patients at the right time on the right channel. For healthcare organizations, content marketing boosts brand awareness, engagement, lead generation, lead nurturing and patient loyalty.
According to a survey of healthcare marketing executives, leveraging marketing automation to personalize and distribute content is a top priority. In fact, three in four respondents said they are currently working on marketing automation or plan to within the next six months. By connecting your tech stack, you gain access to the insights you need to deliver the exceptional experiences that customers demand.
Scaling your enterprise with best-of-breed technology platforms
To digitally transform your business and provide connected experiences, you need to make sure you have the right infrastructure in place to capture patient information, register them for a visit and help them navigate to the right platform.
Two of the most common barriers to enabling connected experiences are tool acquisition and license cost considerations. Determining the right path forward generally requires thoughtful evaluation and negotiation. To harness the full power of your CRM and CMS platforms and enable connected experiences, identify the available options and build a roadmap to fuse them together. At Horizontal Digital, we primarily focus on cross-platform solutions and leverage both Salesforce and Sitecore for our healthcare clients.
Identifying use cases for your tech stack
As you embark on the road to digital transformation, it can be insightful to look at how other healthcare enterprises are solving their technology and infrastructure shortcomings.
At Horizontal Digital, we recently partnered on a solution for a nonprofit health center. Our team was tasked with reducing manual processes and fax machines across the referral community to deliver an improved experience for referring physicians and their initial submissions. Ultimately, our goal was to provide a tailored experience that connected the referring physicians with the services the organization was providing to their patients. We had to make sure we were implementing technology in a way that delivered value to both physicians and patients.
We kicked off the project by making sure we understood the organization’s key drivers and expected outcomes. Next, we considered the appropriate personas and the necessary activities each of them would need. For this use case, the nonprofit had access to many Salesforce Clouds through its .org partnership with Salesforce. But due to an internal skills deficit and the absence of a roadmap, these platforms weren’t being utilized.
As we gathered insights for this client’s solution, we took an opportunity to review prior processes, legacy systems and the new Health Cloud instance it was in the midst of enabling. We identified an opportunity with Community Cloud to meet two key objectives:
- Allow referring physicians to submit referrals.
- Check on specific progress of the referral and the continued patient journey.
We aligned with the stakeholders and identified a path forward to enable Health Cloud. Our team kept the focus on a connected patient experience and successfully eliminated manual processes. Salesforce, Sitecore and other best-of-breed technology platforms can unlock a myriad of possibilities—you just need to pair the right platform with the right use case.
As your organization weathers the COVID storm and seeks to keep up with the evolving healthcare landscape, here are four recommendations to chew on:
- Identify the expected business values of your proposed technology initiatives and relate them to your company’s short-term and long-term goals.
- Scan the full technology landscape and evaluate your options—check your license usage to determine viability.
- Team up with a technology partner that has the chops to complement your objectives and capabilities.
- Deliver the connected, personalized experiences that your customers, partners and employees expect.
Ultimately, no one can predict the future and I can’t tell you what’s exactly right for you. But one thing I know for sure—digitally transforming your organization to deliver personalized, connected experiences will give you an edge in the long run and lead to the highest possible ROI for your business.