What healthcare can learn from the retail apocalypse?

The retail industry is going thru what can rightly be called an apocalypse. Almost 7,000 retail outlets shut down in the US in 2017!

In the meanwhile, these retailers opened almost 1,500 new stores!

  • Dollar General: 900
  • Dollar Tree: 320
  • Aldi: 180
  • Target: 35
  • Walmart: 25
  • Costco: 3

This is true across all major retail verticals from home goods to grocery to fashion (source: CBInsights).

With the recent seismic shifts in the healthcare industry, we anticipate that this sector will also face a similar shift in the not too distant future. So what do we do about it?

As the retail success stories illustrate and as we started to talk about in the last blog, the answer lies in giving the customer what they want. Healthcare, fortunately, has a big advantage; 88% of patients give their doctor a high rating. The question then is how use this goodwill to the provider’s advantage?

So we come back to Patient Engagement. But what do we really mean by Patient Engagement? We define patient engagement as – deploying a set of capabilities and processes that allow patients and their caregivers to interact in meaningful ways with practices and providers across all modalities and at times of their choosing. Modalities? What the heck does that mean? It means that whether the patient wants to walk into the office, call the office, use secure messaging, online chat or tele-video, you are there to respond.

However, the response needs to be clinically relevant: that means that each person who comes into contact with the patient needs to have the key information needed to understand and discuss any issues or concerns the patient has. To enable this level of engagement, we need to think of each patient as having a long-term relationship with the practice and learn to manage that relationship much as other industries have embraced the concept of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  These other industries have also learned that the capabilities needed for relationship management are not provided by the IT systems that are used to run their businesses (ERP systems) but rather they need systems specifically designed to provide CRM capabilities.

The analogue in healthcare would be a separation between the EHR (the system used to run the practice) and a new system that has the tools needed to help manage the patient relationship on a long-term basis! This is achieved by having a system that can capture communications whether they be in-office, on the phone, via tele-video, via secure messaging or online chat while having the capability to immediately surface relevant clinical, care gap, alert or assessment information to the person having the interaction with the patient. NOT an easy task and one that VERY FEW current systems can perform.

Join me next week as we start exploring what such a system might look like and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain technologies can play a role in this new environment.

See ya!