There have been many disruptions over the last decade in the field of healthcare technology, however many hospitals and health systems are not prepared for the digital disruption from a business strategy or workforce perspective. The rate of digital change that has occurred in other industries such as retail and travel has been rapid and the expectations of our consumers, “our patients” is evolving quickly where their experiences being simple, seamless, personalized, coordinated, and transparent do not reflect their health care experience.
The application portfolio in most healthcare organizations has increased dramatically, whether this is from mergers and acquisitions where there was little overlap in application vendors or the applications that have proliferated in digital health. What has resulted is a fragmented experience not only for many physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff but for our patients. Understanding the application portfolio, developing application governance, architecture standards, application strategies for key functions such as Access, roadmaps for rationalization and ultimately decommissioning applications that are not aligned with the overall business workflow which enhances patient experience.
Healthcare delivery strategy is moving towards a consumer journey which is interlinked with digital strategy and it starts with patient access. There can be systemic barriers that exist at the people, process, and system levels of any organization, preventing patients from connection with providers that meets their needs. Creating a seamless patient journey experience which connect, inform, coordinate, and communicate referrals from outside the hospital with a transfer center, transparency to patients with regard to future bills, having a single access center for entry for new appointments and future scheduling are key. Patient access also extends to how organizations connect, engage, serve, and ultimately retain patients throughout their journey. Brand competition is increasing and the ability to attract and retain patients is becoming increasingly difficult.
The patient access strategy is complicated by the fact that a hospital or health system’s current operational structure and decision making, may involve many stakeholders that are used to making decisions for their departments, rather than taking the enterprise view which complicates strategy, solution design and decision making. The technology team is integral to the strategy; however need to focus on the workflows and process first, before defining technology solutions.
"Healthcare delivery strategy is moving towards a consumer journey which is interlinked with digital strategy and it starts with patient access"
Organizational alignment with strong governance where the goals are clearly articulated is the first step to building out a patient access strategy. Many organizations define a future state vision by patient studies and interviews, current state patient journey mapping and then visioning to define the patient experience. Healthcare organizations need to be looking at other industries such as aerospace, defense, retail, and transportation for best practices and case studies on disruption to think differently about the patient experience.
Having a clear understanding of the current and future state business requirements and assessing the capability gaps and maturity is how an overall implementation roadmap that prioritizes initiatives for people, process, and technology changes can be developed. The technology solutions should be supporting the overall patient and clinician processes defined.
One technology platform that has been prevalent in many other industries and has been used for key use cases in either marketing or for physician management in healthcare to date is CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Gartner defines CRM as “a business strategy, where outcomes optimize values such as profitability, revenue, and customer satisfaction by organizing around customer segments, fostering customer satisfying behaviors and implementing customer-centric processes.” There are few healthcare organizations that have undertaken an enterprise customer relationship management strategy that encompasses campaign management, personalization of communication via text, chat or phone, a common patient profile with a 360 degree view which links to clinical information in the EHR and provides a mechanism for access through the contact center, the health system website or transfer center.
As many healthcare organizations have defined enterprise strategies for EHRs and ERPs, Enterprise CRM is the foundation for the patient access and experience strategy. As there is a single identifier for the clinical record, there needs to be a linked unique consumer profile in the CRM that is documenting every interaction with the healthcare organization from patient scheduling, to complaints, texts, chat etc.
Technology professionals supporting these integral business strategies need to focus on developing human centric skills to effectively serve and collaborate with internal business stakeholders. Skills such as conflict management cross functional collaboration and decision making, customer service, teamwork, and emotional intelligence are becoming essential skills for those who want careers in technology. A continuous learning mindset to address current and future workplace skill sets, the ability to understand business terms of contracts and oversee managed service agreements and work with applications that are in the cloud will be key differentiators for the future.