Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Arizona HIMSS Chapter’s Annual Health Summit. This summit was exciting for several reasons. First, I was able to meet or reconnect with several thought leaders who I admire in the healthcare space. These individuals are approaching our biggest challenges with innovation and grit, and it’s inspiring to hear about the work they do. Second, so many of the conversations I had focused on the need to turn our ideas into meaningful, measurable action for the health systems we all work with. The focus on thoughtfully implementing change resonated with me and made me so excited to return next year to hear about all the progress that has been made.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from my Annual Health Summit presentation about building both customer and patient loyalty.
There’s been an ongoing discussion in healthcare about whether to refer to the people receiving health services as “customers” or “patients.” I believe they should be referred to as both. There are times when a person receiving a service functions more as a customer, and there are times when that same person functions as a patient. The key to building long-term loyalty for a health system is to focus on investing in distinct, but equally important, customer and patient experiences.
Think about the last time you scheduled an appointment or service— a haircut, curbside grocery pickup, or an oil change for your car. Did you like the scheduling process? Did you have the option to book through a phone call, a website, or a mobile app? Did the convenience, or inconvenience, influence your decision to work with the same company again?
We schedule things constantly. Because of this, we’re informed customers when it comes to scheduling processes, tools, and technology. The same can be said for bill pay or, to a lesser extent, insurance claims.
Our knowledge as informed consumers doesn’t go away just because we enter the healthcare space. We want—and expect—certain processes to function in a seamless, customer-friendly way. When scheduling a doctor’s appointment takes several phone calls and can only be completed during clinic hours, the customer experience suffers. Conversely, when an individual can schedule that appointment in under a minute using a mobile app at any time, the customer experience is able to foster long-term loyalty.