A Trend Towards Customer Centricity in Healthcare

09/07/2021

The relationship between patients and healthcare organizations is evolving – as patients become more engaged with their healthcare decisions, they have come to expect more personalized care and greater communication with providers. To accommodate the increased level of service expected by patients, healthcare organizations worldwide are adopting a customer-centric approach to care provision that focuses on patient engagement and education, and which ultimately helps improve the patient journey and clinical outcomes. But how can hospital organizations become more customer-centric and attractive to patients? In this article, we introduce some of the key factors driving customer centricity in healthcare and highlight how innovative solutions developed in partnership with Medtech providers can help.

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While already well established in areas such as retail, customer centricity is a relatively new concept in healthcare. But with patients increasingly expecting a more open and personalized healthcare system where they can be engaged in decision-making processes, customer-centric approaches can offer many benefits for both patients and healthcare providers.

Customer centricity in healthcare focuses on the idea of hospital organizations identifying patients as customers, and care provision as a service. Learning more about the expectations of patients while engaging with them directly is crucial to this strategy, and can help deliver value that is based on real customer needs. For example, healthcare organizations are using surveys to assess the patient experience at different stages of the hospital journey. A recent study looking at a survey conducted in a 250-bed Italian Hospital demonstrated the value of this approach and showed how this data can be used to identify areas where the design of services can be tailored more effectively to the needs of patients. 1 As well as bringing patients better value, customer-centric approaches that prioritize patient engagement help improve clinical outcomes and contribute to the continued development of hospital services. 2

Putting the patient center stage through customer-centric approaches goes hand-in-hand with many of the ideals of value-based healthcare (VBHC), where strategies aim to improve patient health and satisfaction, while also controlling and reducing healthcare costs. You can find out more about VBHC here - Value-based healthcare: Improving patient outcomes while controlling costs.

While many hospitals are realizing the benefits of a more customer focused approach, achieving this in practice requires hospital organizations to increase the flexibility of the services they offer. In many cases, this might mean adopting entirely new solutions, such as new methods of patient outreach or staff training on new or modified procedures.

Considering the range of operational changes required to transition to a more customer-centric approach, implementing new procedural changes and strategies for patient engagement may be challenging. To gain additional support with this transition, hospital organizations worldwide could benefit from partnering with Medtech providers. With a range of solutions that increase the flexibility of hospital services and improve patient engagement, Medtech providers such as Olympus can help hospitals deliver value beyond products and ensure their focus can remain on the needs of patients.

Increased patient engagement benefits hospitals and their customers
In a time when patients are taking a more active role in their healthcare decisions than ever before, effective and efficient healthcare requires hospitals to connect with their customers and gain a greater understanding of their needs and expectations.

Enhancing patient engagement is key for hospitals to meet these expectations, which is why Medtech providers are developing innovative new solutions to make this possible. One example is the Digital Education Solution (DES) from Olympus, which is a platform that provides educational material and personalized patient support, as well as tools to streamline administration – all of which can help hospitals reduce the number of missed endoscopy appointments. Now being trialed in hospitals in the UK, DES has the potential to reduce cancellations and even increase the uptake of cancer screening to help improve the rate of cancer detection.

Effective communication is a cornerstone of customer centricity
Another key aspect of the customer-focused approach is effective communication. Nowadays, patients understandably expect to be kept updated on procedures and have access to relevant information about their procedure and care. The ubiquity of smartphones and other devices make them an ideal medium for enhancing communication between hospitals and patients. For this reason, the Olympus team, in partnership with a pilot customer in Italy, is working to create an automated online communication platform capable of answering patient questions about procedures in real-time. Powered by AI (artificial intelligence), the platform uses NLP (natural language processing) and machine learning to provide a human-like conversational experience. By presenting patients with important up-to-date information about their endoscopy procedures in a visually-appealing and well-communicated format, this “Virtual Assistant” aims to enable patients to be better prepared for their visit. The hope is that this will free up nurses for more vital hospital tasks, and also help to decrease the number of rescheduled appointments.

Summary
By enabling hospital organizations to streamline key services and be proactive with customer engagement, partnerships with Medtech providers help healthcare systems in their transition to a more customer-centric approach. In turn this may also contribute to improved hospital efficiency and clinical outcomes.

Many hospital organizations are also increasing their customer focus through collaboration with other hospital organizations, both regionally and nationally. Through the process of consolidation, hospitals can gain greater access to advanced equipment, implement tried and tested procedure optimizations more easily, and, where possible, also benefit from solutions developed with Medtech providers.

From digital platforms for patient education to innovative new automated systems for patient communication, Olympus has a portfolio of products and services that help hospital organizations address the challenges of providing customer-centric healthcare. Working with its customers, Olympus is dedicated to forging strong partnerships that help hospitals deliver value beyond products and solutions.

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