79% of all healthcare leaders expect that all aspects of healthcare will be transformed in the coming 3 years, and a majority of healthcare leaders feel that one of the key elements in that transformation is the improvement of patient and customer centricity1. The first glimpses of change are visible, but the coming years will prove if the sector can live up to its intentions. One thing is clear, with the emergence of new kids on the healthcare block there will likely be a strong need for the sector to step up its’ game in customer centricity to remain competitive
Dr. Anna van Poucke
Global Head of Healthcare
There are three areas that we have focused on for the healthcare sector. Firstly, healthcare providers and insurers who are public or mutual. Secondly the role of pharmacies as a local support to the primary healthcare providers, and finally the private health providers and insurers.
Historically the complexity and fragmentation of the healthcare system made it very difficult for customers to navigate and meet their health goals, especially those customers with multiple chronic conditions. If we have learned anything over the past 18 months, it is that those healthcare companies that are most aligned to solving the complexity of the system and providing simpler experiences to customers are setting the future agenda.
The need for every country to focus on healthcare provision has led to rapid advances in the use of data, analytics, and digital health technologies. The more healthcare is digitized, the more data becomes available and the smarter the solutions are becoming. Years of development have taken place in months as the industry faces the challenge of a global pandemic which has led to a quantum improvement on the experience’s customers can expect.
Advances in digital and logistics technology will likely create the opportunity to transform the delivery of care and make home and close to home a major hub where healthcare can be provided. Healthcare and delivery models are becoming more integrated and digital means that due to that the holistic health of an individual can be better understood and managed.
The Apple Healthkit is an example of a platform bringing healthcare into the home. The app has a set of APIs that allow mindfulness apps, fitness apps, activity trackers, blood-pressure or glucose monitors, or nutritional apps to streamline all the relevant health-related information into the Apple platform. It offers its users a comprehensive experience of monitoring some aspects of their health in a centralized place2.
Increasingly AI can help mediate conversations between the customer and the care provider. Already being trialed for patients with chronic conditions is an AI-driven interface using avatar technology, offered on a tablet, that enables 24/7 care management for members with chronic conditions. It combines technology and human interaction into a single personal interface3.
Data and analytics are becoming a significant source of predictive technologies, looking at patterns of risk factors and making highly personalized predictions as to an individual’s future health state, making recommendations and giving advice along the way.
It is an industry that spans, pharmacies, insurers, and primary and secondary care providers, all of which will have had to review their processes and assess how they might put the customer at the center of their work. This for an industry that has historically been seen by its customers as putting the industry needs before the patient’s needs. KPMG’s Healthcare CEO Future Pulse 2021 shows that innovation and new ways of working will likely force the traditional players in the industry whilst a new wave of digital entrepreneurs have radically improved the service available from pharmacies.
Here are the key trends we are seeing across each of the Six Pillars:
Trust and integrity are central to relationships in any business but even more so in health care. Maintaining trust is job one for healthcare professionals. Research has shown that there is a correlation between trust and clinical outcomes. Patients reported more beneficial health behaviors, less symptoms and higher quality of life and to be more satisfied with treatment when they had higher trust in their health care professional4.
The emphasis has become to protect health instead of managing disease, moving from sick care to proactive healthcare experiences. Anticipating problems and solving them before they bother the patient / customer, are becoming the new norm. New technologies often artificial intelligence powered are helping drive early health risk detection and the rapid implementation of preventative interventions. Major disease areas that use AI tools include cancer, neurology and cardiology assisting physicians to make better clinical decisions or even replace human judgement in certain functional areas of healthcare (e.g., radiology)5.
Considerable efforts are being made to understand patient and customer expectations, there a number of generic expectations such as good communication between physician and patient that are central to health care practices, but expectations can vary considerably based on the patient’s circumstances, personality and state of health. The ability to meet expectations as measured by customer satisfaction has been shown to be instrumental in a number of commercial areas, higher retention, advocacy and lower malpractice suits have all been linked with satisfaction6.
Time and effort
The use of telemedicine and remote diagnostic techniques has greatly reduced the time taken waiting, travel times, and the effort required to obtain a diagnosis. Robot technology enabling remote surgery and clinical support will likely contribute to a faster more efficient experience. Health leaders are focusing first on data-generating, analyzing, and supporting technology – the tools and platforms that help document and transmit patient data, support in clinical decision-making, and enable patient navigation. In line with patient-centric, community-based care, these technologies help set up the digital front door to care. whilst the use of advanced technology like AI in care co-ordination is optimizing the allocation of resources reducing waste and inefficiency7.
Personalized, precision medicine is providing a far more tailored treatment. One that targets attributes that are unique to the individual. Consequently, the world of healthcare will likely change dramatically by having a holistic view of the patient, using advanced technologies for diagnostic and preventative purposes, and delivering an outstanding individualized experience. Personalized care is a considerable area of focus the intention being to give the patient the same choice and control over their mental and physical health that they have come to expect in every other aspect of their life.
Empathy in a clinical context is the physician's ability to understand patients' emotions, which can facilitate more accurate diagnoses and more caring treatment. It has been proven that health professionals with high levels of empathy operate more efficiently as to the fulfilment of their role in eliciting therapeutic change8. More and more, patient experience development is based on a deep understanding of the customer, their needs and requirements, physical and psychological and how these can be addressed at various touchpoints.
The customer experience leaders: Healthcare sector 2021
Public and mutuals (providers and insurers)
It is no surprise then that each of the leading public service health providers in our index have an ambition to improve the quality of the patient experience.
The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia is an organization with a focus on innovation and improvement. The Ministry’s Innovation Centre was established in 2016 and oversees developing ideas and accelerating the implementation of quality projects. This happens according to a design thinking methodology that aims to redesign services and create highly effective products to improve health care. It harnesses the ideas of its employees through its “Ideate to Innovate” award scheme. It is currently developing a system of accountable care organizations, for which IT and digital health are the foundational blocks, ensuring end-to-end connectivity across the provision of healthcare. The new model of care implementation aims to put patients at the center of the healthcare system and involves the roll-out of primary care across the kingdom9.
Partenamut in Belgium is a social security company providing access to healthcare through its public mutual insurance approach. It describes itself as a “socially engaged non-profit organization”. It reinvests its profits in the healthcare and social support structures within Belgium. It aims to simplify healthcare by advising members at every step in their health care journey.
New South Wales Health (NSW Health) have a real focus on the quality of the experience they deliver. They have patient experience officers, a non-clinical role, that works principally during the peak demand times, however can also work a range of shifts to understand the challenges across the day and support staff development. Patient experience officers are recruited for their interpersonal skills and personal resilience, including working with challenging behaviors10.
Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) is the largest public health insurer in Germany. In common with other public non-profit insurers in Germany contributions are based on earnings, the more you earn the more you pay. Techniker Krankenkasse is often rated number one by independent surveys because of its service excellence. It was one of the first insurers to provide 24/7 access to a contact centre that provides help and guidance to identify and access appropriate medical care.
It has long focused on data and the power of data to drive better outcomes for patients. One example is predictive modelling,. which involves detecting patterns in routine data to predict which individuals require more intensive and high-cost care in the future. The predictive modelling selects patients for preventive care services with the goal of reducing costs.
Finally TK focus on the systematic collection of customer feedback (for example a patient survey of doctor-patient relationships), this data is used to improve health care delivery and increase customer satisfaction11.
Ministry of Health
The growth in digital online pharmacies has been accelerated by COVID-19 and the need for contactless services.
The leading pharmacist is our rankings is FarmaciaTei.ro, an integrated online and store-based pharmacist that is known for its focus on family health and provision of healthcare advice provided digitally and edited by specialists from various fields of interest. It conducts an online forum enabling customers to interact with each other and share knowledge and experience.
Online pharmacies in Germany and the Netherlands and in the UK have fundamentally changed the way medicines are ordered and delivered. Globally pharmaceutical ecommerce is forecasted to reach $1 Trillion dollars in 202212.
Pharmacy 2u have partnered with the Royal Mail in the UK to offer same-day deliveries of some medication and healthcare products, following a surge in demand for deliveries. A service that was especially important for vulnerable people during the pandemic: the convenience of home delivery, no queues, and a reduced risk of infection. “At Pharmacy2U we are doing all we can to remain at the forefront of consumer demand and bringing medicines straight to your front door is part of that”13.
It is a complete omni-channel business with a 100-seat call center, Hotmail, live chat, SMS, and post. Customers can access the service through almost any medium. Highly automated, the process is largely systemized, using robots to pick and dispense medication ensure s great clinical accuracy. “Our robots are like massive vending machines with smaller robots within them. They account for something like 60 per cent of our dispatches and help us dispense more than 700,000 items of drug a month (pre-pandemic) – everyone and a half seconds of operation.14” Mark Livingstone, CEO, Pharmacy2U
Drogerie Markt (DM) is a German based but Europe-wide pharmacy chain. It performs well in numerous countries. The company is known for its flat hierarchical structures and high level of social commitment. It is renowned for putting its employees first. Co-founder Götz Werner states that the well-being of employees is more important than the company's returns15. As in other industries, the link between employee experience and customer experience is a vital one to get right. Engaged, enabled and empowered employees are consistently shown to deliver a better customer experience.
Also, in Germany but expanding across Europe is DocMorris self-described as a “platform-based healthcare eco-system”. Their vision is to enable people all over Europe to manage their health in one click – safely and easily. The aim of the healthcare ecosystem will be to make it possible for all users, medical specialists, pharmacists, and healthcare service providers to access seamless and personal 360-degree health journeys16.
DM Drogerie Markt
Public and mutuals (providers and insurers):
BUPA (Arabia)’s approach to customer experience is guided by three pillars:
- Exceptional experience at every customer interaction point: It is about deeply understanding what the customer truly needs and aligning this back into everything the company does
- Going beyond insurance – “the extra mile”: The customer wants immediate access to great quality healthcare. want to be seen immediately and have all their questions answered plus next steps in one sitting
- International expertise: Bupa (Arabia) constantly identifies premium talent. They place a high value on accessing the best global experience it can find17.
By following these pillars Bupa Arabia has tripled its customer base in the last 7 years whilst at the same time improving their customer satisfaction scores to 92%. What is interesting is that they do not see themselves as being an insurer, although that is technically the case – they see themselves as a healthcare company, creating excellent health outcomes for their customer.
For UnitedHealthcare (UHC), the process of customer centricity started at the top, setting the right example, getting people to wake up each morning and ask “How can I help people live healthier lives and what can I do to make the health system better for everyone?”
They decided that to better serve customers, a solid understanding of who the customer actually is, was needed. This meant re-evaluating their concept of the customer. They looked at each customer segment as individual people, really understanding their needs and pain points, deeply understanding their needs, desires and motivations as a precursor to refining customer journeys and opening up new opportunities for engagement all leading to an enhanced customer experience.
Innovation sprang from this customer understanding, and UHC launched SimplyEngaged a wellness incentive program to help customers to get and stay healthier. They are rewarded when they participate in health actions such as a biometric screening and complete health activities using a personalized dashboard with recommendations designed to help keep them keep on track, encouraging customers to pursue healthier lifestyles18. Telehealth was developed a system that allows patients to visit an office, or "health pod," equipped with telepresence technology that includes a flat-screen TV connected to recording devices and physician instruments like a stethoscope.
Internal competence certification program “One value story” has improved employee knowledge with a knock-on positive experience for the customer19.
Health insurer Adeslas moved up 49 places on the Spanish index this year. They have been working on a transformation strategy for some years and it is having a significant impact on how customers feel about their experiences. Key to this strategy are the company’s technology transformation and operational model, aimed at delivering best-in-class customer experience and trust. They have focused on placing the customer at the center of their decisions and processes, majoring on flexibility and reinforcing the customer’s ability to personalize the product to their circumstances. Innovation has been at the heart of the process using new technologies to customise services and speed up business processes, creating value for both the customer and Adeslas20.
One of the main initiatives is Adeslas Salud y Bienestar, their health and wellbeing platform. This customer partnering system brings together, in a single portal, a series of digital services for proactive collaboration with the customer. It is a program that seeks to enable customers to acquire and maintain life habits that can help them feel healthier and happier. It offers a personal lifestyle evaluation, links to activity apps to record progress and provides rewards and experiences on achieving health goals. Vitally it also enables access to health professionals when needed21.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on the global health care sector’s employees, infrastructure, and supply chain, exposing issues in both health and care. COVID-19 is also accelerating change forcing public and private health care systems to adapt and innovate in a relatively short period.
At the heart of this has been the drive towards integrated care offerings supported by digital technologies. New digital fitness players such as Apple and Nike are changing the way healthcare is perceived by both the public and traditional providers as the focus moves from cure to prevention. Deploying new digital tools and services has the potential to increase consumer satisfaction, improve medication adherence, and help consumers track and monitor their health.
The emphasis is now on seeing the patient and potential patients as a customer. A customer with high expectation set by similar experiences elsewhere in their lives. Virtual health has accelerated rapidly and is opening up new opportunities to bring healthcare closer to the customer.
Customer’s health journeys can be very different and the new technology is providing much greater means of personalising care and making it relevant to each individual customer’s circumstances.
1 KPMG Healthcare CEO Future Pulse 2021, June 2021