Five Things Health Care Professionals Can Learn From Other Industries

Forbes, July 25, 2017 – Chris Lukasiak –

Great business development is behind some of the most successful companies in the world. In its most basic form, this means building great relationships and partnerships that drive growth, push innovation and provide long-term value. Customer-focused industries like retail, hospitality, travel and other service-based fields have made the connection that selling something of value means building meaningful relationships with customers and proactively anticipating their needs.

In my experience in the health care industry, I have seen many instances where customer needs are not met because businesses are functioning in outdated and inefficient ways. At our company, a health tech platform for online scheduling and digital care coordination, we are focusing on a solution to provide easier access to care.

As health care reform and the shift to value-based care continue to push the industry into a consumer-centric perspective, change is inevitable. It’s time for the health care industry to borrow and apply a few of the lessons learned from consumer service businesses.

Here are five lessons in relationship building that healthcare professionals can learn from other industries:

Make it easy to connect online.

For more than a decade, Fandango customers have been discovering new films, previewing trailers and buying movie tickets online. More than 30 million consumers now use the service each month. Millions of people routinely self-schedule everything from flights with Southwest Airlines to restaurant reservations with OpenTable. While self-scheduling has already revolutionized many industries, health care has been late to the party. Things are changing, though. Accenture predicts that two-thirds of all health systems and patients will use online appointment scheduling by 2019, adding $3.2 billion in value to the industry.

Provide great service.

Great retailers know that customer service is critical to their long-term success. Nordstrom is renowned for empowering employees to use good judgment, building personalized relationships with customers and providing a welcoming atmosphere from the moment someone enters the store. Health care could learn a lot from the retailer’s ability to make something transactional into something more personal while providing well-thought-out care coordination from the very first interaction. Arriving at a calm, welcoming, organized office where your physician is prepared to see you on time, ensures patients feel valued. This starts the relationship on the right foot.

Have mobile-friendly interfaces.

People like to do things on mobile. From grabbing a ride with Lyft to shopping for holiday gifts, phones continue to take an increasing piece of the consumer engagement pie. Health care groups must be mobile-friendly. Patients are searching for them by phone and they want to interact with their providers, schedule care and conduct visits all from their mobile device. Meeting your customers where they are is critical to any consumer-focused business.

Offer paperless billing.

Credit card companies, insurance companies, cable companies and mortgage companies have all moved to paperless billing arrangements. Allowing people to opt in or out of paperless billing can cut down loads of waste. Patients will appreciate having one less piece of paperwork to file away or shred.

Anticipate needs.

The hospitality industry knows this better than any other. Guests will always remember a specific employee who made their stay exceptional or the check-in clerk that went the extra mile to find them the perfect room. This ability to react to the needs of customers is fundamental to any consumer-focused business. In health care, patient needs can be better anticipated. This means engaging with patients more effectively throughout the care delivery system to help them proactively manage their health.

In the end, successful business development relies on strong relationships to drive growth and lasting value. Enabling patients to schedule care easily throughout the process breaks down the silos that have fragmented health care. Today, scheduling a flight, hotel, or rental car is easily done with a single search. Health care needs to create a similar experience for patients to manage their care when leaving an emergency department, visiting a specialist, scheduling lab and radiology diagnostics, and more. Happy customers — or, in the case of health care, patients — are the central focus of any successful consumer-oriented business.

See the original article on Forbes.

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