Building Patient Loyalty in Healthcare: Highlights from Our #VisitPayChat

A few years ago, we laid out what we saw to be unequivocally true: healthcare was an industry ripe for—and in need of—innovation. We asked health systems to rethink their entire patient journey. We challenged them to design a cohesive end-to-end experience, from the first care visit to the final bill, as if it were for one of their own family members. We stressed that the financial experience wasn’t separate from the clinical one at all. The two are intrinsically tied. 

Fast-forward to today, and the need for a patient-first approach to healthcare finance has only kept growing. Then the pandemic hit and accelerated the process even more. Now, a consumer-centric patient financial experience is practically mandatory. And it’s a transformation that benefits both patient and provider. 

We recently hosted an open conversation on Twitter, an interactive #VisitPayChat titled “Healthcare Transformed: A Digital-First Experience.” It was hosted by customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken. The purpose was to explore the role of digital in the patient experience provided by health systems. Here are some of the opinions and ideas that arose during the Twitter Chat.

What can the healthcare industry learn from other customer-focused industries?

“Let the customer or patient engage on their channel of choice. The more self-service the better, and then when you need to get to a professional you can—but it shouldn’t be the only means.” –Genefa Murphy

“Give customers one place to go. Our client Intermountain is streamlining all aspects of patient interaction using a Digital Front Door solution. –VisitPay

Read more: Leading with Digital from Intermountain Health

What role does the digital-first experience play in brand loyalty? 

“Personalization and convenience… typical one-size-fits-all approaches lack the personalization and convenience consumers are looking for. Human-centric technology with continuous innovation delivers better outcomes for all healthcare stakeholders.” –Terry Warren

“Any part of the patient experience that goes wrong will count against you. However, a bad billing experience is often toward the end of the patient’s journey. You should never end on a bad experience.” –Shep Hyken

“I think patient satisfaction and brand loyalty are the same but different. Patients can be satisfied with their clinical experience and how they were treated, but a bad billing experience can negatively impact their loyalty scores.” –Paul Perona

Read more: Net Promoter Score

What is the biggest barrier for digital to overcome in the healthcare industry? 

“The misconception that older patients are not adopting digital, and the speed in which digital is being deployed in healthcare. Platforms exist now to put healthcare on par with retail in terms of the digital experience.” –Terry Warren

Change often requires changing the underlying support systems. It involves integration flexibility, creativity, and mass customization.” –Casey Hamar

“Investing in the near future versus focusing 100% on ‘today’s fires.’ Healthcare consumers are ready, and as hard as it is to respond to immediate demands on mindshare, we need to respond to stay relevant.” –Pat Saxman

“It’s got to be building trust. People are accustomed to healthcare being in-person so digital needs to prove its worth by being transparent, making people’s lives easier, and protecting privacy at every stage of the patient experience.” –Peter White

If there’s one key takeaway from our Twitter Chat, it’s this: health systems need to put the patient first. Give them what they need to make their financial experience just as positive as their clinical one. As this discussion shows, personalizing and simplifying systems leads to building patient loyalty in healthcare. As Hyken put it: “Patients aren’t ‘case numbers.’ They are people. What can you do to make them feel special and not like just another patient? Figure that out, and you have someone who will come back.” 

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