Across products and business categories, customers are demanding more from companies and brands. Better selection, lower prices, faster service, same-day delivery and frictionless interaction: these are the market mandates of the new customer-centric economy.
And then there’s health care. Characterized by network-restricted product access, price and value obscurity, interminable wait times and a bafflingly convoluted billing system, health care today is often a case study in “worst practice” CX. This is made clear by health care’s NPS status, which perennially competes for bottom ranking with cable TV and internet providers.
Yes, healthcare is complicated. Yes, patients, doctors, nurses, administrative staff, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and payers all own a piece of the problem. And yes, it’s hard to see how any one stakeholder can break through to meaningfully improve the overall patient experience. This is particularly true since the traditional economic incentives of CX improvement – customer retention, revenue growth and brand advocacy – are only partially relevant to today’s healthcare marketplace.
But the stakes for customer experience in healthcare are phenomenally high when you take into account the social costs of poor CX. Consider adherence to a medical regiment: whether or not a patient takes their medicine on time, all the time, in the manner prescribed. According to a recent study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, weak adherence in the US alone causes nearly 125,000 deaths a year, creates 10% of all hospitalizations and costs the already strained healthcare system between $100–$289 billion annually.
That’s real money, and it prompts the question: does CX play a role in these costs? Do patient experiences influence adherence behaviors?