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How Retail is Impacting the Healthcare Patient Experience

By 06.08.23
Reading time: 4 minutes

Now more than ever, healthcare providers must make the foundation of their patient lifecycle management systems a best-in-class patient experience. Patients continue to become savvier regarding how they spend their healthcare dollars — their choices on providers, facilities, and caregivers are based as much on the level of consumer experience and price point proposition as they are on clinical outcomes. Moreover, reimbursement rates are now interwoven with this delivery model.

Healthcare providers must now borrow customer-centered practices and approaches from the retail industry. To win in a hypercompetitive healthcare market, healthcare providers must transform culture and their thinking. They must shift from the mindset that a quality clinical outcome means a good experience to develop a patient-centered consumer experience that touches their patients in a 360-degree manner. 

This includes marketing and creating brand loyalty not only when patients are sick, but also when they are healthy. Retail businesses have centered their entire business model on the mantra that the customer is always right. Meeting customer needs is the only way to maintain a fair share of the market and grow your customer base. Enter the transformation of patient care through the lens of the retail consumer experience modality.

The Retail Patient Experience

The purpose of the Retail Patient Experience is to deliver a consumer experience that is exceptional, consistent, efficient, and delivers at all touch-points of the patient lifecycle: phone, web, scheduling, administrative, clinical, business office, HIMS.

The Retail Patient Experience must be best-in-class, uniform across all touch points in the patient lifecycle, and seamless in order to drive:

  • A memorable, share-with-friends experience for patients with every experience
  • Increases in patient satisfaction survey scoring
  • Brand loyalty
  • Repeat engagement

The retail industry has clearly established that there are three primary decision factors that go into a consumer’s decision to do business with you or to choose not to (or to leave you): product quality (value proposition), price (price-point proposition), and service (customer experience). The retail industry understands that delivering customer satisfaction garners loyalty. It creates a value proposition that yields customers for life. 

Healthcare providers must create a franchise model that drives a consistent customer service experience across all customer-facing parts of the business:

  • Customized by operating entity
  • Bound by common core beliefs
  • Culture-driven
  • Great reputation
  • Continuously improving

Delivering on the service factor for consumers is the easiest, most controllable, and least expensive way to elevate your business.

What patients want as consumers

Healthcare providers must identify what their patients want and need, and it consistently centers on the following key aspects:

  • Ease of contact access
  • Ease of scheduling
  • Competitive pricing
  • Convenient payment options
  • Friendly experience in person and on the phone
  • Prompt follow up
  • Online care options
  • Respectful time management (wait times, time spent with physicians, etc.)
  • Meaningful engagement with caregivers
  • Clean, comfortable facilities that are easy to navigate

The above items are non-negotiables with patients. Healthcare providers can easily implement, measure, and manage the above at little to no cost using simple evaluations and by looking through the eyes of the patient at every step of the patient lifecycle and then implementing the necessary changes. 

Very straightforward adjustments can yield an experience that will make patients more loyal. Loyalty is the paradigm for defining success – especially in a crowded healthcare marketplace with much competition for the healthcare dollar.

Benefits of a best-in-class Retail Patient Experience

Successfully creating a Retail Patient Experience leads to several key, lasting benefits to the healthcare provider. Chief among these benefits are improved outcomes and ultimately a healthier patient population. The benefits also extend to relationships with key external parties, such as successful reviews with accreditation and regulatory agencies, and improved referral patterns and volumes from physician partnerships and networks. 

The improvement in the overall patient experience positions the healthcare provider to improve its relationships and negotiating position with health plans. Finally, the provider stands to create a positive bottom-line impact by lowering its overall cost of doing business.

Technology requirements to drive a best-in-class Retail Patient Experience

Healthcare providers must embrace leveraging technology stacks that expand beyond the capabilities of the EHR/EMR and bring into the fold an advanced Consumer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. CRM has long been a leveraged technology and strategy in the consumer services industries and its engagement capabilities. 

CRM provides advanced segmentation and marketing capabilities, personalization, preference center, marketing/operational/clinical automation capabilities, and rich data analytics and integration capabilities, allowing healthcare providers to balance between a system of record for consumer/patient engagement (CRM) and the clinical system of record (EHR/EMR) for clinical care delivery. 

The CRM acts as an extension of the EHR/EMR. It allows healthcare providers to establish, manage, optimize, and expand:

  • Digital Patient Engagement
  • Provider Referral Management
  • Centralized Consumer Management
  • Specialty Care Plans and Pathways
  • Population Health Management

The Salesforce platform for healthcare is a leading example of a robust CRM that has been designed and configured to healthcare provider needs and consumer/patient preferences. The robust features of a Salesforce Health Cloud and Marketing Cloud foundation allow healthcare providers to leverage the rich capabilities of CRM as the engagement system of record. These functionalities are solely operationalized through the Salesforce platform, expanding and enhancing the capabilities of other systems of record inside the provider’s tech stack through interoperability and integration. 

These systems may include the EHR/EMR, patient population management systems of record, billing/revenue cycle systems, telephony/VoIP, surgical scheduling systems, RN triage, systems, IV/PR systems, third-party claims data/CIN/marketing/PNM, and HR/ERP systems. The platforms also allow for enhanced data analytics and insights, as well as visibility to operational transformation and process flow improvements. The Salesforce platform gives healthcare providers the ability to:

  • Digitize patient communication and care coordination through existing networks while laying the foundation for expansion
  • Personalize care delivery and monitor adherence to care plans to increase patient retention, reduce at-risk populations, and expand network engagement
  • Streamline care across the continuum and improve community health

The platform also allows the healthcare provider to improve on Continuum of Care management of its consumer/patient populations by leveraging technology with engagement across the patient lifecycle, maximizing engagement and driving the appropriate efficiencies, compliance, and outcomes from care directives. This seamlessly allows for a concierge care model and plan to be fashioned by patient segments and cohorts, keeping low-risk patients from becoming high-risk patients and managing the movement of high-risk patients into low-risk status. 

Optimize the Retail Patient Experience with Salesforce and Silverline

Healthcare providers must realize that the only perception that matters is that of the patient. The patient’s perception is reality in the new world of healthcare consumerism.

The path to creating a Retail Patient Experience is challenging, but ultimately very achievable. It requires commitment to a new culture as well as department-level implementation. Follow the retail model and capture your patient feedback through surveys and benchmarking the competition. Engage your staff and providers to deliver a patient centered experience grounded in communication. Implement patient-centered care. 

The improvement in clinical outcomes, enhanced financial results, loyalty among the patient population, and positive upticks in referral volumes will make the effort quite worthwhile. Find out how Silverline can help your healthcare organization. 

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