As the health care model changes from siloed to patient-centered, digitally enabled and demand-led, there will be growing pains: persuading consumers, clinicians and those charged with governance to adjust business and clinical processes to get the right care delivered at the right time, all of the time, in ways valued by the consumer.
Kristi Henderson spoke of the importance of long-term trusted relationships that are the foundations of personalized care. Drawing upon a care team’s shared knowledge of an individual and their personal network is how N of 1 interactions can become scalable. However, as she says, “It’s common sense but it’s not done because it’s hard and takes a lot of work. It’s an intentionality that’s not built into our operating model which is based upon appointments 15 minutes apart.”
Knowing the unique customer and enabling him or her to define preferences heightens the importance of design thinking in improving the clinician and consumer user experience across health care settings. Daniel Kraft emphasizes the importance of simplification, saying, “People don’t always want to be reminded of their health or be bugged” and that, for clinicians, “No one wants to jump through a bunch of hoops to collect data … the clinician wants insights and actionable information, not just raw sleep data.”
Several people spoke of issues with user experience in health care, especially about complex health IT systems. Transforming the experience is not just an issue of end-user satisfaction. It is achieving the right balance between users customizing how they consume information and the safety net of standards.
Rachel Dunscombe describes this well:
“We can't infinitely personalize and remain safe. What I’m asking for is both standardization and variation at the same time. Standardization to a set of ways of working, for example how blood pressure or renal function are displayed. But then personalization for the clinician to match their operating practices such as how they arrange the widgets on the screen to consume that experience. It's that combination of warranted variation that gives a great experience and standardization that brings safety.”
To this end, co-design with clinicians, patient and consumer groups is a hallmark of human-centered design, designing with and for people. The best outcomes arise through a participatory co-design process, where health care consumers and workers imagine what a better experience could look like for everyone.4 For example, co-design can focus on elements of education, access to data, interpretation of results and predictive insights to improve well care. In addition, agile design of smart buildings and virtual services, including modular facilities, hardware, software and networks, is required to meet future demand as new technologies, innovative new care models and different ways of working come into play.
Measuring consumer centricity
Increasingly, patient experience is a central outcome for health care organizations alongside clinical effectiveness and safety. Measuring and improving patient experience are vital steps in understanding and improving the quality of care. Value for organizations arises through clinical processes, along with a robust business case that links patient experience to financial performance, brand and reputation, patient loyalty, and employee satisfaction and retention.5, 6, 7, 8
Industry executives hold a strong interest in understanding experiences in the moment, as well as customer trust and loyalty. The generation of trust is important for brand equity and reputation, and for how consumers make decisions on where to seek care.
The customer experience metric, Net Promoter Score (NPS), is used by many interviewees; however, the NPS is only one measure used to gauge consumer experience. Other measures used included customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopper research and benchmarking performance against peers.
Some organizations track whether patients are using the digital tools provided (e.g., hospital apps, remote monitoring or patient portals). This is important for clinical reasons but also for future data mining of customer activity, customer preferences and creating more finely targeted experiences for patients. Looking outside of the health industry to see how others are evolving how they look at and measure trust (such as financial services) may be one way the health industry can continue to evolve how it understands and builds on improving patient trust.
The advent of digital health at scale raises the bar on consumer engagement and loyalty. Patients value the interpersonal aspects of their health care experiences and need a reason to stay, especially in a digital health ecosystem where switching becomes easier. Digital tools make it easier for consumers to find alternatives and switch to get what they want. This raises interesting issues around the cost of switching — to what extent does exceptional service counter the attractiveness of care that may be cheaper or easier to access?