The New Health Pivot: Consumer Identity as the Cornerstone of Digital Health
Smart health systems realize that they need to think about their sustainable growth strategies in terms of end-to-end user experience.
The digital transformation programs of the major healthcare organizations I work with are increasingly focused on two things: how to increase revenue and how to improve the consumer experience. The focus is again on sustainable growth, in particular because of the losses the main health systems of the country displayed in the first half of 2022.
Digital health leaders face a new challenge today, as the days of waving hands over the strategic nature of digital investments have given way to a preference for cold-blooded execution. (There is simultaneously a Darwinian elimination of the herd of digital health point solutions underway, exacerbated by the current decline in venture capital funding which poses an existential threat to tech startups operating at a lower scale). The bold experimentation in digital health sparked by the pandemic two years ago has now given way to a consumer-centric approach that examines demand aggregation, funnel conversion rates and value at customer’s life.
A New Approach to Patient Experience: Digital Health as a Product Management Function
There is now a realization that healthcare systems need to view the growth issue as an end-to-end user experience issue. This requires a product management approach that starts from user needs to design new multimodal experiences and unlock new revenue streams from new digital healthcare business models. Health care needs a new direction and a break from the current approach to recreating the traditional in-person experience with an online experience, with all its flaws.
For most traditional healthcare systems, this is a difficult change. Health care has never been “consumer” driven, driven by a “follow the money” approach fueled by a fee-for-service model that rewards increased consumption of health services.
We are now entering an era of multimodal care that goes beyond the substitution of an in-person visit for a virtual visit. Digital health leaders think beyond modernizing technology infrastructure and optimizing application workflow. They build journey maps to understand patient experiences and gaps to drive personalization and improved outcomes.
These new approaches also require restructuring organizations and breaking down internal boundaries. Traditional marketing functions of core systems work more closely with other functions such as access and patient experience. In one case, the healthcare system appointed a manager overseeing both marketing and digital patient engagement. In another, a large regional health system is implementing an enterprise CRM program that combines outbound campaigns to acquire new patients with contact center operations to more meaningfully engage with existing patients who might search for new services. This integrated approach also requires an omnichannel communications strategy and platform and analytics capabilities to identify gaps in care for targeted campaigns.
Leading healthcare systems nationwide are rethinking their service line strategies with these new approaches, supported by traditional consumer research and branding/marketing capabilities. Today’s mantra for healthcare marketers is to meet consumers where they are and connect them effectively to needed healthcare services. However, to prioritize the needs of the client, they must rely on data, whether to analyze communication preferences, develop propensity models, or determine gaps in care.
As patients begin to embrace in-person and virtual care, healthcare systems must also create hybrid care experiences built on the continuity of data and authenticated states of patient interactions. This has led to identity and identity-driven engagement and personalization strategies, a concept firmly embedded in many of our online experiences, such as media consumption and online shopping.
Putting Consumer Needs First – Gold and Beyond
Building an effective patient/consumer engagement platform is identity-based. In healthcare, the notion of identity, multimodal and omnichannel engagement has been a challenge for most organizations due, among other things, to the lack of a national patient identifier. A recent paper from the National Academy of Medicine rightly points out that matching an individual’s data across organizations remains a critical part of the learning healthcare system of the future. In the absence of a national identifier, organizations must create what is known as a gold record, or master record that consistently and accurately identifies an individual by linking the different identities that may exist for the individual. (such as patient, consumer, member).
The digital patient engagement platform of the future will have a robust gold record-driven identity verification and resolution capability that will allow individuals to personalize their experiences. It’s akin to how consumers define their media preferences and shopping choices on advanced platforms like The New York Times and Amazon. An added benefit is the ability to engage patients beyond a single episode of care on an ongoing basis to address health and wellness needs in addition to the treatment of medical conditions.
First we need to defragment the healthcare experience
Today, accessing and receiving health care is at best a fragmented consumer experience. Historically, we’ve had a very siled healthcare data infrastructure, and interoperability between various proprietary systems is a work in progress. As consumer demands grow, the need to combine medical and non-medical information such as demographics, web traffic data, and social profiles will place an increasing burden on digital health leaders to operationalize health platforms. engaged consumers who can create targeted awareness campaigns, provide seamless experiences for accessing care, and improve healthcare outcomes through data-driven interventions.
The fragmented nature of data means that assembling clinical, financial and demographic data from internal and external sources is one of the most important tasks in healthcare today. We are at the very beginning of the transformation. Our immediate priority is to transcend the clinical record system, i.e. EHR systems, as an increasing amount of data relevant to the healthcare experience of the future resides outside of the healthcare system. registration.
Digital health leaders will need to build more user-friendly features like identity federation that can improve personalization and help optimize workflows in access. Improved data management capabilities will enable advanced analytics such as AI and ML for better targeting and interventions. At the same time, digital health managers must consider data privacy, security and communication preferences to comply with HIPAA and other laws, a burden that many online platforms of consumer goods and services do not have to bear.
Identity management and omnichannel communication are emerging as core capabilities for healthcare systems to engage across in-person and virtual touchpoints that increase LTV. Personalization also allows caregivers to direct patients to the most appropriate care. The last part of the equation is supply and demand. In a hybrid environment, the same service can be available virtually or in person, in synchronous or asynchronous ways. Advanced analytics and forecasting tools can improve steering and match supply to demand. Healthcare consumerism is real; One way or another, health systems must adapt to this new reality.
Paddy Padmanabhan is the author of Digital transformation in healthcare – How consumerism, technology and the pandemic are accelerating the future. He is the founder and CEO of Damo Consulting.