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November 04, 2019
THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE: HEALTHCARE'S OPEN HOUSE PARTY
By: Christian Nejm

Imagine a healthcare future where you can interact with your health team from anywhere. Where your wearable devices are synchronising to your health record, where your medication is specifically developed for you (based on your genome), and delivered to your door, where devices monitor your vitals and beam them to the cloud, and where VR and AI applications for your healthcare providers enable experiences and treatments we haven’t even conceived yet.

Already, governments and organisations (especially in Australia) are spending large sums on creating meaningful experiences for consumers—from hotels and airline bookings to retail experiences and even government services. A new agency in NSW focussed on this and the buzz surrounding Service Australia. Now, healthcare payers and providers are joining the battle to “own the customer.”

My previous blogs spoke of personalised medicine, exploratory moonshots, and how consumers will own the future, where I highlighted key implications of the consumer’s rise to power.

  • A “new normal” of service and experience will be universally expected.
  • Consumers will work, play, and live on their terms.
  • Healthcare incumbents will sunset, streamline, or completely reimagine their consumer plays.

A New Normal

To be honest, if you haven’t come to the party yet, you’re missing out. The party has been raging for a few years now with no signs of slowing down. Hotels, retailers, airlines, big brands and consumer goods are extending from the shopfront, the resort and the air into the home and all aspects of consumers’ lives.

Booking flights with Alexa, ordering your shopping with Google Home—AI engines often know more about you than you do and can provide holiday recommendations and recipes, while VR/augmented reality brings experiences to life so you can try before you buy. Focussing on consumers’ needs is so important that a new government agency in NSW has been created to look at it.

“Australian companies spent a record $2.3 billion on customer relationship management (CRM) technologies last year, up nearly 20 percent on 2017 compared with their global peers who lifted investment 15.6 percent to US$48.2 billion.”1

Healthcare is late to the party

Some of this is already happening across the health ecosystem. From big pharma like Pfizer looking to own the end to-end-experience, to insurers like Vitality and Medibank LiveBetter promoting well-being and healthy living, to providers working to better understand their customers’ preferences before they come in for procedures. But it’s not enough, and consumer expectations, based on other industries, mean more and more consumers are dictating their own terms to providers.

The Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey confirmed that Australian “healthcare consumers’ expectations for convenience, affordability and quality are redefining how they engage at each stage of care.” For example, “non-traditional care delivery services are making rapid inroads. Outpatient/day surgery hospitals are popular (57 percent) and about one-fifth (21 percent) of respondents in Australia say they have used some form of virtual care (an increase from 12 percent in 2018). Many of those who have not used non-traditional care delivery services would be willing to do so—for example, 62 percent say they would use virtual care or digital therapeutics.” Evolving preferences across all ages in Australia show a need for Healthcare transformation.

With new technologies becoming mainstream, this market pressure will intensify exponentially. AI, virtual care, IoT, and augmented reality are coming together to create new experiences that integrate into consumers’ lives—well before and long after their healthcare encounter. It’s not hard to imagine a future combining all these technologies in end-to-end experiences, many of which are available today. And the core platforms required to enable these are currently being looked at in health organisations—both public and private.

This future described above really isn’t that far off. You can already interact with your health team from anywhere, and your wearable devices can already synchronise with your health record. But providers stitching these experiences together, forming an end to end seamless experience are going to be the winners.

Ecosystems are key to success

These end-to-end experiences and technologies are not (and will not) likely be provided by a single entity. Experiences of the future will be developed in an ecosystem by healthcare providers, consumer device providers, insurers, retailers and others working together to create a specific experience. For instance, they might come together to support an elderly patient or manage chronic diseases, or simply to support a health individual achieve their wellness goals.

It’s about identifying your organisation’s strengths and determining how partnering to bolster capability or offer new services could support the consumer. This could mean cross-industry propositions with partners, suppliers, and in some instances, competitors forming alliances around a specific customer experience.

These ecosystems will be key, and healthcare organisations who realise this and form partnerships with other parties who have touch points with consumers, long before and well after the core patient experience provided by healthcare providers. If this person-centred, futuristic (current) world of innovative healthcare experiences interests you, please reach out. I’d love to talk.

1Australia outstrips global spend on martech, customer experience.

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