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Consumer technology for health systems

Insights from health system leaders

Consumers increasingly expect the same convenient and efficient digital experiences from their health care systems that they rely on from other consumer-facing industries. Our new report explores the technology that health systems are adopting to meet rising expectations and interact directly with consumers and discusses how they can improve to eventually get closer to Deloitte’s vision for the Future of Health™.

Can Health Technology put the consumer first?

What if the health care digital experience was more like that of other digital interactions? Consider how we use apps to order food for takeout or delivery. With just a few clicks, we can order, pay, and even customize how our order is cooked, plus when and where it gets delivered. Better yet, it can all be accomplished without ever leaving the couch. Technology has led to personalized, integrated, seamless, and frictionless experiences in other consumer-facing industries as well. Why can’t health system technology do the same?

As we move to a more consumer-centric Future of Health™ and Deloitte’s vision for 2040, health system technology will need to stay competitive and meet rising consumer expectations by delivering a more seamless and personalized experience. Consumers are going to increasingly expect health care technologies to function like those of other industries. A better technology and digital experience will likely improve satisfaction if it helps increase efficiency and convenience. Consumer-facing digital technologies, including virtual visits, online scheduling, and bill payments, as well as virtual triage and registration, are among those being adopted by hospitals so that they can interact directly with consumers for access, communication, care delivery, and/or payment.

Putting the consumer first in health technology

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions recently interviewed technology, digital, and marketing executives from 10 health systems to learn how they are approaching the adoption of consumer-facing health technology. Our respondents generally agreed that health systems:

  • Recognize the importance of digital transformation, yet have fallen behind other industries when it comes to adoption
  • See multiple opportunities for consumer-facing health technology in care delivery, health equity, cost efficiencies, loyalty, brand, competitive positioning, and talent recruitment, as well as patient and staff experience
  • Should try to shift their current digital strategies to be more consumer-friendly, as most digital tools were developed for in-person processes and, as such, were not designed to be consumer-friendly or wholly native to digital
  • Require more leadership support to prioritize investment in digital transformation and consumer engagement efforts
  • Need more robust, comprehensive measurements and goals for consumer-facing digital technology adoption beyond patient satisfaction scores

Making technology a priority for health systems

Our interviews also revealed that digital maturity can vary widely by health system. Some organizations were investing in digital consumer experiences before the COVID-19 pandemic and have since accelerated their investments. Others are further behind and have done little to catch up. However, all respondents agreed that both digital transformation and the consumer experience should be top organizational priorities.

When asked how health systems should best move forward to become both truly digital and consumer-friendly, executives suggested the following:

  • Start small, and identify the biggest pain points from the consumers’ perspective.
  • Use technology that is simple.
  • Use data segmentation to understand the needs and desires of consumers.
  • Focus on integration of data and systems.
  • Ensure that the experience is truly digital and seamless, versus continuing to rely on manual processes on the back end.
  • Consider the perspective of clinicians, administrative staff, and other workforce members in digital transformation efforts.
  • Bring in outside partners to elevate consumer-facing digital experience and capabilities.

The future of technology in health systems

Health systems that prioritize digital adoption and put their consumers at the center of their efforts will likely be well positioned for the future. Organizations that are successful may see significant improvements in both their consumer-facing experiences and customer loyalty. Ultimately, this will propel them closer to Deloitte’s vision for the Future of Health.

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