woman holding onto a baby's finger
PHOTO: Aditya Romansa

Healthcare providers are exploring different ways to improve customer — in this case, patient — experience, to make different aspects of planning and receiving treatment more convenient. These efforts are providing unexpected internal benefits as well, said Greg Poffenroth, director of customer experience at West Monroe Partners.

Voice Assistants Help Parkinson’s Patients

UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company working in Parkinson’s disease and other chronic illnesses, recently went live with a new mobile app, April (named for Parkinson’s Awareness Month), which uses a conversationally-enabled artificial intelligence technology to actively engage patients, said Jordan Paul, one of UCB's co-heads of motion patient value.

The app is designed to understand the detailed specifics of a patient’s condition and guide the patient to the preferred solution, ensuring the patient has access to resources around the clock, according to Paul. “Parkinson’s is a disease where the challenges of the condition align surprisingly well with the benefits of a voice assistant. PD Coach’s voice capability and its ability to learn are extremely helpful in trying to understand the patient journey and adjust to Parkinson’s patients' changing needs.”

Paul added that patients with Parkinson’s may struggle to keep track of their symptoms and stick to a schedule. Since the app is on the patient’s phone and essentially lives in the home, it can aid in tracking symptoms and medication, connect with local support groups and provide reminders.

However, Paul noted the app isn’t designed to replace the caregiver/doctor-patient relationship. “It is another resource or tool that can support a patient’s disease journey but not meant to replace the vital human touch within healthcare.”

Related Article: How Retail, Banking and Healthcare Approach the Customer Journey

Bringing the Retail Experience to Healthcare

Depending on a patient’s healthcare needs, a visit to a provider might be for a quick checkup, extensive care or something in between. The “customer journey” extends from the initial search for care through patient billing, payment and follow-up, each of which can be daunting in their own way, especially if they are in disconnected silos.

Influence Health is a vendor of CX-related technologies geared at healthcare providers, including a CRM system, authoritative health content, appointment systems and related details.

Patients are starting to expect healthcare providers to offer digital solutions like the retail and travel industries, said Kyra Hagan, Influence Health senior vice president of marketing and communications.

Like those industries, patients of healthcare providers using the Influence Health system can see ratings of different providers within a healthcare system. Those ratings combine external and internal data, Hagan said.

The technology also aids patients in selecting providers based not only on preferences (time of day, languages spoken, years of experience, etc.), but will also offer alternatives (a provider meeting fewer of the criteria) for more timely appointments, which can be critical when someone requires urgent care rather than seeing a preferred caretaker.

The suite includes driving directions, parking details and geotargeting with targeted SMS messages once a patient comes within the geofenced area to offer additional parking assistance and step-by-step directions.

“We want to lower the barrier to entry to receive care,” Hogan says.

Related Article: Why the 'R' in CRM Is the Most Important Letter in Customer Experience

Ensuring Quick Care for Injured Workers

Company Nurse, a nurse triage and reporting service for injured employees, recently added a cloud-based contact center solution from Genesys to help injured employees contact the service via the preferred channel of communication to receive immediate care.

“Now that all of our contact center communication tools are in a single application, with the click of a button, an injured worker is matched with a registered nurse,” said Henry Svendblad, CTO at Company Nurse. “The efficiency of the system helps injured workers minimize the duration of their pain and enables nurses to quickly determine the necessary level of care: self-care, non-emergency, or an emergency room visit.”

According to Svenblad, the company is receiving only 1.2 contacts per incident, meaning the majority of employees are getting their injuries addressed in a single contact.

Related Article: Frontline Workers Still Point the Way Forward for the Digital Workplace

Better Data, Better Patient CX

Any time someone has a checkup, goes to the hospital or has other healthcare procedures, the provider collects a large amount of data.

By using the insights that data supplies, healthcare providers can offer better CX, according to Clark Wooten, group vice president, insurance services, for Acxiom Corp.

“Acxiom has been leveraging more than 4,400 behavioral, psychographic and demographic attributes for patients 18 and older, to partner with providers, who have a responsibility to anticipate patient needs before diagnosis and treatment occurs — eliminating any surprises to patient satisfaction,” Wooten said. He cited factors such as ability to pay, education level and other social determinants of health as integral parts of establishing a trusted relationship between physician and provider facility and patient. 

With this data, the healthcare provider can quickly authenticate the identity of patient at registration; secure registration online before admission and unify electronic medical record details throughout the enterprise (many providers have multiple facilities), Wooten stated.

In addition to sharing data between facilities for better patient CX, the ongoing opioid crisis and diabetes focus are advancing dialogue between providers and data companies, like Acxiom, to challenge the status quo and take a collective responsibility to learn new ways to share data for medical and patient experience breakthroughs, according to Wooten.