What do healthcare CIOs need to know about digital journeys?
What is a digital journey in healthcare?
Digital interaction is part of almost every aspect of our lives today, from how we learn, to how we shop, how we are entertained, and even how we exercise. In many cases, digital experiences are intertwined with physical experiences and are no longer perceived as entirely distinct from one another. Customers today expect organizations and brands to speak in one voice and offer seamless interaction across multiple physical and digital platforms and spaces. For example, a conversation with a customer service representative started on a website might be continued on a social media platform or even in person.
A digital journey includes all digital interactions with an organization from the customer’s point of view. In fields like healthcare, digital journeys are often long-term, taking place across numerous touchpoints and channels, and encompassing interactions with various departments and roles. Creating that type of seamless multi-platform engagement can be a challenge in complex ecosystems like healthcare. Yet nowhere is it more important.
There is a growing awareness that human wellness and wellbeing aren’t achieved by expert treatment of a series of disconnected health problems. Instead, wellness is a holistic process that looks at the patient experience as a whole, and at the interconnected aspects of his or her health and wellbeing. The digital journey can be a major component of enabling that process.
Why are digital journeys relevant to healthcare CIOs?
Consumers today have more agency than ever before - they know that they have options. Lifetime brand loyalty is a thing of the past. In almost any field, if customers aren’t happy with the service they receive, they’ll go online and find another alternative.
The healthcare industry is no exception to this trend. Patients expect a simple, customer-centric experience with minimum hassle in their interactions with their healthcare providers.
CIOs are usually tasked with building the mechanisms to meet the changing customer expectations. In fact, the industry publication CIO.com predicts that consumerism is one of the top three factors–along with technology and pandemic–accelerating the digital transformation of healthcare. It also predicts that experience design will be one of the most sought-after capabilities for digital leaders in healthcare enterprises.
That prediction is supported by findings of a 2021 Deloitte survey of healthcare organizations in which 92% of the respondents said that better consumer satisfaction and engagement are the top outcomes their organizations want to achieve from digital transformation. In today’s consumer-driven healthcare world, CIOs no longer have the option to focus their efforts solely on organizational needs–their focus should now be primarily on the customer’s digital journey.
Challenges in a digital healthcare journey
Building digital healthcare journeys is important, but it isn’t always easy. There are several barriers that CIOs often face in the process, including:
Integrating siloed systems
When technology went mainstream in the healthcare and insurance world in the eighties, it was used primarily in the back office for organizational record keeping–it wasn’t about the customer experience. If the technology was slow or inefficient, operational processes slowed down. New features were added according to priorities and schedules set by IT, and not by the employees who interacted directly with customers.
In today’s customer-centric market, that has changed. Yet, in most cases, hard-coded legacy systems are not agile enough to meet dynamic customer needs. Changes to legacy systems can take months, or even years, because every change has to be thoroughly tested to make sure that it doesn’t impact other elements of the system. Customer-facing employees are not empowered to be part of the process–instead, they are still completely dependent on IT priorities and schedules.
Creating a positive user experience for patients and clinicians
When users–like patients, clinicians, and the employees who work with them–aren’t involved in the process of creating the digital journey, it may not meet their needs or be intuitive for them to use. Clunky systems won’t do the trick–consumers simply won’t use them. The same is true for clinicians. They’re busy enough as it is treating patients. They don’t have the time or patience to learn systems that aren’t user-friendly, to juggle multiple platforms, or work with a system where the added value isn’t apparent to them.
Privacy and security
Health information is sensitive and protected by various laws and regulations including GDPR, SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. Digital touchpoints must uphold the highest levels of security, and be updated regularly to meet the latest regulations and requirements. These requirements add a layer of complexity to digitalization in the healthcare industry.
Key elements of a successful digital journey in healthcare
In today’s dynamic and demanding landscape, needs can change overnight. In order to succeed with limited resources, CIOs need to move fast, view processes as end-to-end flows, leverage employees outside the IT department, and create partnerships. When working with legacy systems that were created for a different world, it can be hard to know where to start.
McKinsey identified 4 key elements that are critical to creating a successful digital transformation in healthcare:
- Identify and prioritize critical sources of value: Customer-centric digital journeys are about delivering value to the customer. That’s why the first step should be for each healthcare organization to define where it provides the most value to its customers and stakeholders. Companies can then consider how to enhance their main value proposition in those fields using digital tools.
- Build service-delivery capabilities: Once an organization has defined where its key value lies, the next step is to think about how to deliver that value to customers and stakeholders effectively with digital tools. An agile approach backed by real-time insights and data science is the most effective way to accomplish this. Customer-experience design is also critical to success.
- Modernize IT foundations: In most legacy technology, new applications are limited by old code that isn’t built to support agile innovation. That’s why transitioning to modern IT infrastructure is key to building a successful digital journey. Integrating SaaS platforms can be key, allowing healthcare organizations to adapt to changing requirements and use cases without inordinate investment in infrastructure.
- Strengthen core management capabilities: Successful digital transformation impacts the entire organization and should involve the entire organization–it shouldn’t be the pet project of the IT department. That means building the capacity of existing staff, across departments to take part in the digital transformation process, as well as recruiting external talent. The transition to a customer-centric digital journey has to become part of the company culture in order for it to succeed.
Incorporating these four elements helps set organizations up for success in building their consumer-centric digital journey.
The future of health IT
Customer-centric no-code platforms make it easy for healthcare CIOs to accomplish more with existing resources and leverage internal expertise to build customer-centric digital journeys. Instead of being sidelined, customer-facing employees who don’t have a tech background can build workflows that streamline patient intake and consent and allow patients to fill out and sign health forms, HIPAA releases, and consent forms remotely.
Time-consuming paper- or call-based processes can easily be streamlined, enabling patients to complete actions such as request prescriptions or complete COVID-19 vaccine authorizations on their phones. And if regulations change–as they often do –processes can be updated within minutes.
Without the limitations of code-based legacy systems, employees in all parts of the healthcare ecosystem can be empowered to think big and improve processes and services. Organizations can identify and respond to customer needs in real time. Customers can interact with their healthcare organizations whenever, and however it’s convenient for them.
As we’ve all learned in the past two years, it’s important to expect the unexpected and prepare for it. With agile, no-code tools in place, CIOs in the healthcare world can feel confident that they will be ready to respond the next time the world throws us a curveball.
Learn more about EasySend’s no-code platform–book a demo now.