• Three Trends Driving Healthcare Experiences

    I’m a cyclist. I recently crashed on my bike. I wish I could say I went down while contesting a sprint in a race, but the truth of the matter is more mundane. I hit a pothole. It’s the cycling equivalent of tripping while walking down the sidewalk. I went down pretty hard. Hard enough to crack my helmet and almost total my bike.

    As I was sitting on the curb waiting for my wife to pick me up, I realized three things—I knew I had to apologize to my wife for crashing, I knew I had to go to the ER, and I knew that dealing with my insurance was going to be a tough experience.

    As my bad luck would have it, my hand was not only broken, but would require surgery. And that meant insurance bills. Lots of them.

    I’m a reasonably well educated person, but when it comes to insurance, I struggle. It’s a byzantine system. Deductibles. Co-pays. Flexible spending accounts. Provider networks. It’s frankly confusing. You never know where you stand, and whether you’re going to get a random bill. I’ve always wondered why it can’t be more straightforward. I know I’m not the only person to feel this way.

    According to the Temkin Group, and to the surprise of few, organizations that lag in customer experience can be found more commonly in the airline, Internet service provider and healthcare industries.

    History and most reputable MBA programs suggest that goods and services with a high level of complexity and poor experiences are ripe for disruption. For healthcare generally, that time seems to be at hand. Why? Three trends stand out:

    • We’re being asked to spend more of our own money on services and products such as insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Costs continue to rise, and when costs rise, consumers and markets become more selective.
    • More competition is coming to healthcare. As a result, providers are increasingly focused on customer retention and service delivery. They have to be because requirements in the 2010 Affordable Care Act opens up competition for membership in the individual and small group markets.
    • There is an economy-wide focus on repeatable, memorable experiences that match individuals’ wants and needs. When executed well, this increases customer loyalty and lowers service delivery costs over the long term. Good experiences tend to get copied…

    Broadly speaking, what are the expectations that people want to take from other experiences and apply to elsewhere? Three trends that healthcare providers need to focus on are:

    transparency and clarity

    convenience and speed

    ubiquitous access ad control

    Underlying all of these offerings is good design, which is an essential component of great experiences. In order to remain competitive, organizations across all industries should focus on:

    • Delivering a consistent and/or cohesive experience
    • Fostering deeper engagement with customers
    • Improving the first time user experience
    • Creating new products and services to meet unmet needs
    • Improving efficiency and/or user friendliness of their existing products and services

    Our healthcare clients and other industry leaders are embracing these progressive perspectives. Are you?

    There is 1 thought on this idea

    1. Sean Rice

      Healthcare definitely needs some UX help.
      I’m fairly experienced with the terminology since I had a benefits related project at my job a couple years back (adding an High-Deductible HSA option to our benefits package that needed explaining).

      But even with some knowledge about what’s happening, I’m still baffled when I need to get health care more complex than your annual checkup. Multiple bills for (seemingly) the same service, bills coming from third-party vendors at hospitals, not knowing for sure if X service I want/need is covered at this facility, not knowing the optimal facility for my health issue (comparing ratings/wait times/cost)

      One very telling usability problem: if you have to tell me in big red letters at the top of a statement “THIS IS NOT A BILL” you’re doing something wrong.

      Possible solutions:
      1) Insurance company fronts the money for the bills and then bills me for the remainder all at once
      2) Hospitals offer a centralized billing service to their vendors. Hospital bills me all at once for whatever my insurance doesn’t cover
      3) Statements need to be clearer in how they are presented. If it’s not a bill, why does it look so much like one? Let’s redesign them so there’s no confusion.
      4) Stop sending paper bills and statements if I opt out. If I care how much the insurance company paid I will log in to their site to find out.
      5) Transparency! Let’s compare–in ONE place–competing hospital wait times, ratings, average treatment costs, quality metrics…

      but I digress…. (and admittedly, I have no idea about the legal/regulatory ramifications of these things…)

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