To Understand Where Healthcare Is Heading, Look to Retail and Banking Industries

What can healthcare learn from ever-evolving industries such as banking and retail? One word: evolve.

Insights on how to do it the right way are as close as your nearest retailer or banking institution. These industries have forced to become masters at pivoting their business models regularly to keep up with. And slightly ahead of – consumer habits, wants, and needs. Below are some key takeaways we have gathered from leaders in those markets that can be applicable to healthcare.

Consumer Focus

According to a recent Forbes Magazine article, retailers are striving more than ever to give customers what they want in order to stay competitive. Among the top things consumers said they want in a retail environment are. Especially, product demonstrations, personalization, mobile apps, and especially convenience.

Now consider healthcare as an industry. Hospitals are historically slow adaptors to change due to size, fragmentation, and regulation. The challenges presented by the Affordable Care Act and regulatory mandates around Meaningful Use are perfect examples. Especially, how daunting it can be for some hospitals to implement change. Yet we are dealing with the same consumer who makes bank deposits from their mobile phone without needing to go to the bank.

Look to some of the latest innovations in the retail industry as a guide to what consumers are looking for. Especially, online chat with live agents to answers questions and solve problems; same-day product delivery; ordering and bill pay from the convenience of the consumers’ home or mobile device. Retailers are listening to their customers and creating products and services to meet their needs.

The Amazon Effect

A PwC 2017 Total Retail Report cited the “Amazon effect” as a phenomenon that is changing the way consumers expect their experience with businesses to be.

The report said, “Amazon has set many new standards in retail through its creativity and seemingly never-ending streak of disruptive innovations to make shopping—and life—easier, more convenient, and more fun. Think of Amazon Echo for voice-based ordering and other interactions; the Amazon Dash button to facilitate reordering supplies for household staples such as coffee and laundry detergent; Amazon drones to make deliveries faster and more efficient; the soon-to-be-launched Amazon Go stores featuring checkout-free shopping; and Amazon Studios for movie distribution.”

These trends are empowering consumers to make better decisions more quickly. Similarly, healthcare providers are beginning to offer patients the kinds of tools and services that allow them to take more control of their health, even on the go. MEDHOST, for example, supports patient engagement through tools like custom content, patient portals, and a mobile app that enables patients to link several portals and fitness devices together in one consolidated place.

Implement Data to Personalize Consumer Experiences

In the banking industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already in use. In fact, Business Insider has deemed AI as one of the top trends that will define the banking industry this year. According to the 2017 Digital Banking Report, improving the customer experience is at the forefront of many of the report’s predictions and the impact of improved use of customer insight is the underlying foundation of most of the trends highlighted in the report.

In the State of Consumerism in Healthcare report conducted by Kaufman Hall and Cadent Consulting Group, more than 100 U.S. hospitals and health systems were surveyed. The report found that while two-thirds of respondents believe that developing insights into patients’ behaviors and expectations are critical, less than one-quarter of healthcare organizations have the means to gather and analyze meaningful patient data. Read more on that here.

But according to MedCity News, one source was quoted as saying “At the end of the day healthcare providers have to think: Who are my customers? What do they want? And how do I deliver on those needs better than anybody else? It’s like any other business.”

Highly Tailored Healthcare

Our counterparts in the banking industry are taking key data points and are then measuring. Especially, that intel against their customers’ short- and long-term goals to create a “highly tailored” service.

The healthcare industry should apply that same mentality to its patients by mirroring what we see in other industries, because consumers want to have access to their information online and engage with entities they do business with. That’s where a patient portal can be your crown jewel. At MEDHOST, for example, some of our new offerings are focused on expanding clinical capabilities and ultimately consumer engagement by streamlining the appointment process in YourCareCommunity Scheduling as well as providing patients and consumers a venue to manage their data via an online wellness dashboard in YourCareEverywhere.

Healthcare isn’t the first industry to provide consumer-focused solutions, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the leaders. Also, do it every bit as well as those who’ve gone before us.