Patient Centricity: The Path Forward for Healthcare Companies

Few would argue that the U.S. healthcare industry has witnessed unprecedented change over the past few years. From new legislation, mergers, an increasingly competitive pharmaceutical environment, rising costs and premiums, and consumers’ new role in making their own health decisions, healthcare has seen its fair share of evolution and tumult. And with those changes come new patient expectations. Consumers’ perceptions are constantly being reformed and altered by new and innovative experiences from outside the healthcare space. Fair or unfair, the digital shift experienced in media, social relationships, technology and brands is applied to each and every healthcare touch-point. As a result, healthcare companies are under new pressures to become more patient focused.

To be credible in today’s market, healthcare companies must put more effort into building a patient-centric strategy.

Patient centricity is a shared goal
In creating a patient-first ecosystem, marketing cannot go it alone. Slapping a happy customer veneer over an archaic system of silos and disjointed customer interactions is not enough. Patient centricity necessitates all departments, from medical affairs to payers, focus collectively on the outside perspective of their business and what it takes to serve patients first. Spending time understanding customer constituencies – healthcare providers, advocates and influencers, insurers and patients – while rethinking every aspect of your business in terms of the customer road map creates a system-wide environment for opportunity. Using innovative ways across the organization to conquer the roadblocks that prevent empowering patient groups is the ideal outcome of a unified patient-first organization.

Patient centricity requires learning at every step
Patient centricity also serves as an opportunity to continually teach or remind employees why they’re there and what they’re working to achieve. In some cases, creating the most value means building relationships and mindsets that create homogenous patient interactions. Each touch is an opportunity for employees to better understand the patient and their needs at that point in their journey. Further, there is an opportunity to look across the entire organization to uncover new points of learnings. Using web, SEM or email analytics anew (beyond the basics) can create more personalized experiences and new opportunities to learn about true patient behaviors.

Patient centricity includes HCPs
Healthcare providers (HCPs) will also be marketed to as individuals and, through technology, in new ways. Patients are more informed than ever and want to work alongside their doctors to create custom treatment regimens. By considering the marketing mix holistically as a means to drive HCPs and patients toward shared conversation, each is better prepared to talk to the other in their language. This approach also builds credibility for the doctor while decreasing reliance on “Doctor Google.” We call this “symmetric intent” and believe it will be a driving force in patient centricity going forward.

Patient centricity requires building trust
Health systems that have undertaken building a reputation of trust with patients are the ones in the best position to pivot to a patient-centric approach. The difficult work of uncovering and engaging patients and their preferences in personalized, localized and customized communications will see a payoff in the coming years as the lines between each patient experience (both online and offline) shatter. Marketing dollars that responsibly use relevant customer data and provide both educational experiences and useful direction for patients will be a wise investment, yielding an increase in engagement and customer satisfaction. In short, you’ll be rewarded for shifting marketing dollars to provide patients personalized content and experiences. Not only can it be done with the data you have today, but it’s also a requirement.

Patient centricity measures what’s important
Prior to designing and launching any patient-focused effort, it’s important for teams to know the key demand driving questions they want to monitor and solve. Begin by identifying the information needed to solve each business question – all the inputs that touch each solution – by examining the issues and desired outcomes. Next, define the key performance indicators that will be used to track progress and how each KPI will be used to direct future decisions. Setting the benchmarks upfront not only provides direction and goals, but also gives individuals in the organization a specific purpose when working with patients.

There are no indications on the horizon that the pace of change in the healthcare industry or the increase of consumer involvement will abate. And while these suggestions seem like a short list for success, their effects in the long term can be dramatic.