A Healthcare CIO’s Role in Delivering Incredible Consumer Experiences

Facebook LinkedIn Email

08/09/2019 in Blog

Healthcare consumers are selecting providers based on a new value equation, in which customer experience (CX) can be more important than healthcare quality and cost.

Today's consumers can be a demanding and fickle crowd to please, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently pointed out in a passionate letter to shareholders. The demand for personalized content and messaging, seamless digital experiences, and cutting-edge consumer engagement is an obstacle that CIOs in finance, retail, and dining have already faced. As consumers begin to demand the same of healthcare organizations, healthcare CIOs thus have the opportunity to follow their lead.

By behaving like Amazon or Uber, disruptive provider brands can take market share from more traditional brands. These digital disruptors have CIOs who lead their organizations, alongside marketing executives, beyond experimentation with digital best practices and toward a CX that scales.

Wisdom From Another World: Consumer Goods

A few years ago, leaders in the consumer goods space were asking many of the same questions that we're now trying to answer in healthcare. Faced with the challenge of envisioning the future of marketing and determining what it meant for CIOs to emerge as organizational leaders in an era of digital transformation, three key areas of change stood out:

·         A move away from uni-directional, broadcast messages and toward targeted, interactive engagement

·         A need for connectivity in all aspects of marketing and communications that harnessed social communities and focused on relationships

·         The use of data science and predictive analytics that informed targeting and engagement to improve marketing effectiveness, optimize execution, and enable real-time decision-making

The complexity and sophistication of these demands pointed to one irrefutable fact — information technology had moved beyond being an enabler of marketing change. It had become a foundational player in creating and developing relationships with consumers. That shift in IT sparked fundamental changes in the role of the CIO:

·         CIOs expanded their governance. For example, digital technology — once managed by marketing — became the territory of the CIO.

·         CIOs became responsible for KPIs traditionally owned by CMOs, with whom they now had a symbiotic relationship

·         Decisions made by CIOs became centered on the consumer and their experience

·         Across the organization, cross-functional teams replaced departmental silos as the ideal team structure

Integrated Approach to Consumer Journey Design

Between the flood of technological advances witnessed in recent years and new business models emerging daily, the consumer journey is more complex than ever. To design a frictionless, end-to-end healthcare experience, organizations must map their consumer journey. But doing so often poses a stiff challenge for CMOs, particularly when it requires solving technological problems.

The key to success is shifting away from uncoordinated efforts within organizational silos and launching an integrated operating model where CMOs and CIOs align and organize around consumer journeys. Cross-functional teams, which may include employees from marketing, IT, operations, and clinical departments, can work collaboratively to implement a single vision for a new customer experience.

CRM Is Not the Center of the Customer Data Universe

Shifting reimbursement models and skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs have fundamentally changed how healthcare consumers make decisions. With a constant barrage of emerging channels and devices, the consumer data available — and the insights they generate — has exploded. As a result, the rise of healthcare consumerism has overflowed well past the banks of marketing (or even patient-facing technologies) and into the gardens of IT.

To map the consumer journey, the sum total of all of a consumer's interactions with a provider brand — from awareness to conversion, appointment booking to rehabilitation — must be captured. It is thus the CIO's responsibility to help CMOs and CXOs construct a tech stack that ensures consumers feel uniquely understood and important at each and every touchpoint. To do this right, brands need a holistic understanding of their customers.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software once promised to store and maintain all customer data, providing a comprehensive view of customers and their needs. But, as the volumes and types of data have increased, the ability for CRM software to fulfill this promise has diminished. Real-time behaviorial data, for example, are essential for understanding consumer intent and should be a standard component of any customer profile. However, storing and managing that data is beyond the scope of CRM.

CRMs remain an important component of a healthy CX ecosystem, but they are best used to manage the customer relationship workflow, from scheduling tasks and documenting human-led interactions to sending batch messages. As transactional systems, they are immensely valuable, but they cannot be expected to power personalized, cross-channel experiences.

The Rise of the Customer Data Platform

If CRM is not the answer, then what is? For the foreseeable future, healthcare organizations will compete on customer experience — and that's where customer data platforms shine.

The term “Customer Data Platform" might be a new one for you, but these platforms have been around since 2013, when David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute, first coined the term. They emerged as a solution to the fractured martech landscape, gaining attention from industry analysts from firms like Gartner and Forrester.

They're especially suited to evaluate and respond to the expectations and needs that today's digitally-savvy customer brings with them. Using CDP, marketing and IT teams can build a more holistic view of the customer and whittle down integration headaches by creating a single source of truth across the enterprise.

Managing Big Data Without Big Risks

Healthcare is notably behind in adopting CDPs, in part because security and privacy in big data are critically important issues for healthcare. Big data, no matter how useful and vital to the success of a healthcare organization, can only be used if security and privacy issues are addressed. Deciding on the allowable uses of data, while preserving security and patients' right to privacy, is an arduous task for healthcare CIOs.

Complicating matters, the healthcare industry continues to be one of the most susceptible to publicly disclosed data breaches. Implementing security measures that meet the muster for healthcare organizations remains a complex process, and the stakes are continually raised as the ways to defeat security controls become more sophisticated. Accordingly, it is critical that organizations implement healthcare data security solutions that will protect important assets while also satisfying healthcare compliance mandates.

Remember, we're just seeing the beginning of closer involvement between the healthcare CIO, the healthcare CMO, and the healthcare consumer. Technologies like blockchain are knocking at the door to give patients even more access to their records, and every day consumers are becoming savvier about their needs and expectations around the healthcare experience. Today's healthcare CIO has a unique opportunity to equip their organization with properly aligned technology solutions and step up as a leader — not just of IT, but of the consumer relationship, as well.

For more insights into how CDP can power unparalleled healthcare consumer experiences, watch our on-demand webinar: The Rise of the Customer Data Platform & Why it Matters for Health Systems.