If there's one major challenge that healthcare organizations face in the quest for a stellar patient experience, it's consumer conditioning.

That's because by the time someone begins the healthcare decision-making process, they're not just a patient. They've been conditioned by years of interaction with retailers, financial institutions, and food service companies to expect a seamless experience that's focused on their needs and expectations. Basically, by the time they get to your door, they're conditioned to make choices, even healthcare choices, as consumers.

Any healthcare patient experience that misses the mark of their expectations by being episodic, lumpy, or anything short of what consumers-turned-patients are used to threatens your relationship with them.

An efficient solution that many healthcare provider brands have adopted to help manage the data required to create better consumer experiences is a healthcare CRM system. The challenge here though, is choosing one that can keep up with increasing consumer demands. Falling behind or choosing a system that's outdated or doesn't meet your needs can result in a number of less-than-optimal results.

Inability to Measure the Consumer Experience
Measurement matters and is key to understanding the consumer experience from a patient perspective.

You're connecting with your patients through diverse channels including direct mail, patient portals, phone calls, and email, and you might even be launching cross-channel campaigns, but what does the big picture look like? Without a comprehensive perspective powered by advanced analytics, and an understanding of both segments and your consumer's journey, you're left with a fragmented picture and no reliable starting point for your consumer outreach strategies in the future.

Frustrated Patients
Your healthcare consumers' interactions can get pretty complex.

They're navigating billing, pre- and post-op instructions, scheduling, follow-up, day surgery instructions, and insurance to start — that's a lot of information from a mix of different sources. It's almost inevitable that they're going to have a number of questions, but where are they getting them answered?

Between portals, kiosks, customer service representatives, IVRs, and in-person resources, your organization likely offers touch points that are so varied, any patient can be left frustrated. Conflicts of information, long hold times, system downtime, and incorrect information could be plaguing your consumer experience. But without the insight of a well-built CRM, you may never know where those specific gaps are and where you need to focus your improvement efforts.

Patient loyalty is the key to not only your consumer relationships, but also patient acquisition, brand reputation, revenue, and ultimately the future of a facility or system. Considering that today patients switch hospitals and physicians more easily than they ever have, insight into consumer loyalty is no longer an option.

JAMA has even suggested taking inspiration from retail loyalty programs for their consumer-oriented approach, and for good reason: In one year, the average Pioneer ACO saw 38 percent of their patients leave, and across a five-year period, a Medicare physician group practice demonstration saw more than half their patients switch physicians and care settings.

Not understanding what motivates consumer loyalty is a missed opportunity to empower patients in the management of their health decisions and improve business outcomes for providers.

Limited Visibility into the Impact of Mergers and Acquisitions
Healthcare mergers reached a fever pitch in 2017, with a record 115 health system and hospital transactions announced, and things don't seem to be showing any sign of slowing down.

Mergers and acquisitions bring with them consumers with their own preferences, habits, and histories, meaning smart organizations are paying acute attention to not only new patients, but also how existing patients respond to change. A lack of insight can cover up dissatisfaction, confusion, and dipping levels of patient retention that could easily spell trouble.

Cloudy Patient Education Initiatives
Patient education programs are used by some of the most elite healthcare brands across the country to build trust, empower consumer decision making, and ultimately improve outcomes. Even the best program though, can fall short without insight into exactly how it is impacting the consumer experience.

The right CRM can be a powerful foundation for evaluating patient education initiatives and also gathering feedback on how patients prefer to access materials.

Ultimately, the decision process around acquiring a CRM system should involve heavy consideration of the consumer experience with a strong understanding of your goals, requirements, team capabilities, as well as what value creation looks like for both patients and organization alike.

Want more insight into selecting a CRM tailored for healthcare and the use cases one can support to help your reach your organization's goals? Download our Definitive Guide to Healthcare CRM.