After two years of disruption, the healthcare industry—like many other industries—has started to regain its footing. That’s not to say that things have returned to the way they were. Our post-pandemic world is here to stay. However, just as we as individuals have adapted to the “next normal”, so has the industry at large—and it looks nothing like it did before. Gone are the days of paper form filing and siloed service departments. Welcome to the age of digital-first healthcare, where patient data and service channels are all interconnected and immediately accessible.
While nearly every aspect of healthcare has undergone some change over the past few years, few transformations have been as dramatic as that of customer experience. They key point of contact between patients and providers today looks more like an online storefront than an office switchboard. Medical records—finally digitized—are stored, secured and shared among service providers and payers via the cloud; user accounts now serve as a patient’s primary hub for test results, scheduling and billing; and automated notifications ensure timely communication across the entire network. Given the sea change we’ve already seen, what’s next in store for healthcare CX? Here’s a glimpse:
Explore Tomorrow’s Healthcare CX
HIMSS22 | March 14-18, 2022
1. Healthcare CX will become emotionally aware
Ask analysts what CX trend they’re most excited to see in the coming year, and odds are you’ll hear a common refrain: emotional intelligence. After two years of social distancing, self-isolation and remote interactions, it should come as no surprise that our collective mental wellbeing has declined. In fact, according to a survey published by the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of respondents reported that their general wellbeing had declined since the pandemic began. Consumers today are stressed, burned out and starved for empathy—and companies are taking notice. Those at the forefront are augmenting their CX tech stacks with emotion AI software that analyzes nonverbal cues, like tone and voice quality and subtle facial expressions, for emotional information. Signs of stress or frustration can then trigger an appropriate response, such as escalating self-service to a live agent or prompting a representative to apply more empathy. No wonder it’s one of Gartner’s Four Trends for CX Excellence in 2022.
2. Healthcare journeys will look more like retail ones
Look at last year’s 15 most trusted brands globally, and you’ll noticed two things: 1. Tech companies dominate the list, and 2. Healthcare is nowhere to be seen. As companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft continue to shape the modern consumer experience others are forced to keep pace, catch up or fade into obscurity. Healthcare is no exception. In a recent Forrester survey of the 17 largest healthcare plans in the U.S., only one provider, Humana, scored above the industry average for patient experience. The Kentucky-based insurance company invested heavily in modernizing its CX in line with current patient expectations, including a more user-friendly—and retail-familiar—interface. Expect more payers and service providers to make similar CX transformations over the coming months.
3. Telemedicine will surge. Hospital-at-home care will triple.
Before the pandemic, telemedicine was an added convenience. Healthcare providers could boast offering “next-generation care”, while in reality the scope of service was largely limited. That changed after 2020. With hospitals pushed to capacity (and beyond), many turned to telemedicine to unburden overwhelmed facilities. As the technology matured—aided by AI-powered CX applications—adoption rates increased. That number will only increase as users become more familiar and comfortable with their telemedicine options. Similarly, hospital-at-home care is expected to explode in the coming months, with Forrester predicting the number of hospitals that will deliver care at home to triple.
4. Cybersecurity will be priority (and investment) no. 1
that the number of
in healthcare jumped
Remember that list of trusted global brands—and not a healthcare company in sight? Lagging CX innovation is only part of the equation. Forrester warns that the healthcare could lose its trusted industry standing this year if existing security concerns aren’t addressed. Forbes reported that the number of hacking incidents in healthcare jumped 42 percent in 2020, accounting for 62 percent of patient data breaches. In the first half of 2021, 360 breaches exposed nearly 23 million patient records, outpacing the same period in recorded history, according to Modern Healthcare. As remote networks widen and staffing shortages continue, healthcare providers and payers will increasingly look to technology—and AI and automation in particular—to bridge the growing security gap with greater urgency than ever.
360 breaches exposed nearly 23 million patient records
outpacing the same period in recorded history
5. AI will move to the infection frontline
Artificial intelligence is remarkably efficient at analyzing and predicting human behavior. In fact, today’s AI-enabled CX platforms can accurately predict customer intent based recognizing subtle patterns. Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, scientists have sought to apply AI modeling to infection prevention. Now, with two years’ worth of data—including information on new strains, like the Delta and Omicron variants—we’re able to predict the emergence, severity and transmissibility of infections with greater accuracy than ever. We are not only seeing this in the macro sense (i.e. identifying regional hotspots); we’re also seeing an increase in AI use at the facility level, with the development and deployment of surveillance algorithms for healthcare-associated infections (HAI). These tools will only rise in prominence the longer the disease—and the fight against it—lasts.