Come and knock on our (digital) door
We’ve been waiting for you
Authors : Quinn Solomon, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Sunil Venkataram, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
How health care providers can use technology to improve patient acquisition and retention
With apologies for appropriating the theme song from the late-1970’s television show, “Three’s Company,” hospitals and health systems want—and need—new patients to knock on their door. Only thing is, today’s door is digital, and savvy health care providers are proactively using high-tech “keys” to make it easier for consumers to open it.
In years past, patient acquisition wasn’t something that health care providers thought about much: competition was limited and patients typically selected a doctor or hospital based on family and friends’ recommendations. Providers’ idea of marketing—when they did it—meant buying advertising space on a billboard or in a newspaper, with the goal of keeping their organization’s “face” in front of the public. These institutional marketing practices continued well into the 2000s; but unlike “Three’s Company” reruns on cable TV, they’re not expected to return.
Today’s technically adept, quality- and cost-conscious consumers are used to the ease and control of digitally researching, selecting, and engaging with financial services, retail, and consumer product companies; they expect to interact with their health care providers the same way. Unfortunately, hospitals today tend to struggle with digital interactions along the awareness, consideration, and acquisition journey; those working to acquire and retain patients may need some new keys to proactively reach out, market to, and serve those patients’ via their choice of digital devices and channels (which typically varies across patient clusters and demographics).
While each hospital or health system’s competitive situation is unique, grouping providers into several archetypes that share similar attributes can assist in identifying each group’s digital needs based upon patient acquisition goals, and strengths and capabilities.
Destination medical centers are nationally and/or internationally renowned provider organizations with a clear market differentiation based on clinical quality. Their patient acquisition and engagement processes typically are best-in-class and use cross-channel engagement tools, personalized contact center capabilities, and personalized itineraries. Since a primary patient acquisition goal for destination medical centers is to see the most complex cases and clinically ill patients, they need digital capabilities to help them identify and target those patients in a cost-effective way.
Academic medical centers (AMCs) are well-regarded health care providers that focus on research and medical instruction; as such, they want to acquire patients in their clinical research focus areas. AMCs’ digital needs include capabilities to help targethighly complex and research-oriented specialized patients, and to improve new patient intake and discharge management efficiency.
Specialty hospitals are provider organizations with a unique specialty focus; for example, a children’s hospital or oncology care facility. Like AMCs and destination medical centers, specialty hospitals want to acquire and treat a targeted population set. Because they have strong and positive brands, specialty hospitals receive a steady stream of physician referrals and consumer-originated admission requests and must filter through large volume of potential admissions—digital capabilities may make that process more efficient.
Commercial hospitals are health care providers with a strategic emphasis on growth and market share
Their goal is tocost-effectively acquire patients in their targeted revenue growth areas. Commercial hospitals have a meaningful driver to improve the acquisition process and increase volume. Enhanced digital capabilities may help these organizations communicate a differentiated value proposition and reduce digital friction points for consumers to contact and visit them.
Although their goals, strengths, and needs may differ, all of these groups can open the door to more (and more desirable) patients by implementing a cloud-based, digital, patient-centered care solution that connects clinical and non-clinical systems to reimagine the digital patient care process—from using analytics to target specific patient segments to contacting them via websites or social media; from scheduling appointments via a mobile app to speeding the admission process; from personalizing inpatient and outpatient care to providing timely access to billing information. By incorporating provider-specific user interfaces and use cases, a digital solution can address specific patient-engagement shortcomings and challenges, focus on improving acquisition and care quality, and potentially reduce operational costs and churn across the patient journey.