When marketers talk about good customer experience today, they describe ways to remove pain and obstacles from the customer journey. Every industry wants a seamless, Amazon-like digital experience where people can easily and quickly find the information and solutions they need. However, when consumers are in need of healthcare, their experience on hospital websites is often quite poor leaving patients confused and frustrated. Notably, 1 in 5 healthcare patients today have already left or switched providers after having poor digital experience. Whether they’re looking for a diagnosis or preparing to have a child, people seek medical assistance during some of the scariest points of their lives. Their unstated expectation is that healthcare organizations are making digital experiences as comfortable and easy-to-navigate as possible while demonstrating an emotional understanding that helps alleviate suffering and unnecessary stress. But, that’s often not the case.
We recently spoke with Tara Becker and Dan Persson, both directors of solutions delivery at Perficient, to better understand how they approach digital transformation to improve the digital healthcare experience. Both Dan and Tara are veterans in the healthcare space, previously serving as the vice president of client strategy and the CTO of MedTouch, respectively, before the organization was acquired by Perficient in January 2020. They described firsthand how healthcare providers and organizations need to innovate and build benevolent experiences that treat patients as real people and offer them the care they need in the ways they want.
A Whole-Person Approach to Patient Engagement
One of the most difficult and unique challenges healthcare organizations face is how to help people navigate emotionally charged journeys with compassion and true understanding of each individual’s personal circumstances. “When someone is first diagnosed with breast cancer, they’re not looking for a list of 10 clinical trials or searching for the best doctor. The first question they’re asking is ‘Am I going to die?’ And then ‘How am I going to take care of my family?’” explained Tara. When the stakes are truly life or death, organizations need to focus on caring, actionable content that empowers patients at specific points in their journey. Demonstrating concern and empathy from the start is how you build trust. “Once patients are further along in the journey and have the ability to digest critical information, we can progressively present more clinical content to them. But the emotional understanding must come first.”
The customer journey in a field like healthcare is far more nuanced than other verticals. The buyer journey in a space like B2B tech or fashion often begins with awareness and helping customers understand why they need or want your product. However, when it comes to someone’s physical and mental health, that need is already there, and it’s critical.
According to Tara, offering patients generic, one-size-fits-all content can irrevocably damage a consumer’s perception of your brand and sever their confidence in your ability to improve their circumstances. “When a website is displaying information that isn’t relevant to where someone is in their journey, it creates distrust. Often that person will leave and seek the answers they need somewhere else,” she said. Creating personalized patient journeys starts with strategic persona development and mapping content to align with the highly specialized audiences across different stages in their healthcare journey. “Healthcare consumers’ needs will continue to evolve. You cannot set it and forget it when it comes to the content you display. The content you present has to continuously reflect their changing expectations and needs,” said Tara.