The health care industry, including managed care organizations, is notorious for ignoring the customer experience. But with regulations limiting differentiation between products, health plans must rethink consumer experience to meet expectations of today’s consumers, who seek convenience, quality, and speed from their health care organizations.
Many health plans understand they need to connect more effectively with their end customers, but technological, cultural, and other obstacles are in the way. One of the biggest challenges is the indirect nature of the relationship with members, as consumers typically access their health care through employers, hospitals, or doctors.
Value-driven care models present an opportunity for health plans to deliver superior customer service, but there’s also a risk that they’ll become even more removed from the customer if the models are viewed simply as a way to shift risk to providers.
On the technology front, most payers are just starting to explore technologies to collect data, drive customer insights, and manage customer relationships.
And at a cultural level, creating a truly memorable and high-quality customer experience requires a massive shift in thinking by all employees in an organization. High-performing organizations in other consumer-facing industries have technologies and employees at every level focused on providing an excellent customer experience. These organizations should become examples for payers to follow.
In the future, payers will have much more direct interaction with members. Informed patients will be making choices about their health care like they do any other purchase—by assessing cost, quality, and the experiences of other customers.
Because payers will become more integral to this process, now is the time to adopt the following four best practices:
Customer experience has long been neglected in health care, but as competition intensifies and consumers become more discerning, health care organizations will have to adjust. Forward-thinking health plans already recognize the importance of customer experience in value-driven care. It’s time for the rest of the industry to catch up.