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Doctors should look to Amazon, Apple, when considering patient experience

Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | December 01, 2017
Business Affairs
CHICAGO — Health care providers should look to the web and smartphones to engage patients, taking lessons from retail giants like Amazon and Target, as well as health technology startups, which are revolutionizing business, a pair of consultants told an audience of radiologists at the 2017 RSNA annual meeting.

Matt Henry and Calvin Cheng, both health care experts with management consultant firm Point B, provided tips on how radiologists can provide more of a retail experience for patients, considered consumers of health care.

Henry noted that as patients face higher deductibles and out of pocket expenses, they are choosing where they’re going to be spending their health care dollars and are doing more research on review sites such as Yelp before making appointments. Some practices are embracing web and mobile applications that text message patients with appointment reminders and allow them to pay their bills online.

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“Being consumer-centric and embracing patients as consumers means that you’re thinking about your patient before, during, and after their care experience,” Henry said.

Doctors should start thinking of their practices in the same light as health care startups that are thinking about improving the patient experience.

“You need to understand what are the needs and the pain points,” Henry said. “What are the patients asking for and how do you pull that information together. Secondly, it’s analyzing that feedback and identifying what are the solutions that make sense, and how are they going to approach that. Ultimately the question that you should be asking yourselves is what can we do as an organization, what can I do as a provider to differentiate ourselves, just as other leading consumer-centric organizations are doing, such as Amazon, Disney, Apple. Thinking about yourself in that same light is important.”

Brands are also taking a “mobile first” approach and Henry singled out health insurance provider Oscar, which has a mobile app that allows patients to find providers and make appointments, and even tracks steps and gives customers Amazon gift cards when they meet their step goals.

Cheng acknowledged that Amazon has created an unrivaled retail experience with things like same-day delivery, and said that smart companies are realizing that while they can’t “beat Amazon at Amazon’s game” they can differentiate their brands by delivering great experiences.

“As a result, the importance of consumer journeys and understanding the entire life cycle of how American consumers interact with brands has become a huge area of investment and focus for many of these consumer-centric companies,” Cheng said.

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