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How fast-growing health-tech companies are improving the patient experience

Posted August 23, 2017
Health tech

Healthcare is one of the last industries to transition to a more customer-centric model. In the past, insurance restrictions and a prior lack of information have meant that patients have little choice in where they get help. Medical providers and insurance companies had no incentive to innovate or to differentiate.

But advancements in technology have forced almost every business to serve customers across more and more channels, and healthcare is no exception. “It’s not enough for the physician to deliver high-quality medical services, but the patient [also] needs to have an overall positive patient experience at every touchpoint,” says Katie Bourke, a partner at the healthcare consulting and marketing agency Points Group.

Engaging healthcare providers and patients

There are a number of new players, including medical care scheduling services like Zocdoc, and tech focused health insurance start-ups like Oscar Health, who understand how to leverage customer service to deliver a better product and improved patient experience.

Thanks to Zocdoc, Oscar and a growing crop of companies like them, power dynamics are shifting, and patients are increasingly empowered to pick the best medical providers for them, while booking appointments instantly via easy-to-use online platforms.

While technology is a core enabler, delivering the best patient experience has to be central to a healthcare company or provider’s mission, vision and values, says Brian Reich, marketing strategist and author of The Imagination Gap.

But it’s not too late for larger, more established players to get on board with using technology to transform the patient experience. “It may take time for traditional players to catch up with newer firms, but ultimately, those who are proactive about making the shift will win,” Reich adds.

Zocdoc and Oscar Health’s customer service standards

Both Zocdoc and Oscar have developed an extensive on-boarding process to help medical practices establish a seamless office workflow and build out profiles on their platforms. They also vet doctors to ensure quality standards. The result is happier patients who gain access to the best doctors in a more efficient way.

To maintain service level standards, Zocdoc holds medical practices strictly accountable to instant bookings. If a doctor cancels, a contact center agent will personally reach out and help the patient reschedule. They may even offer an Amazon gift card to patients when things don’t go right, and they’ll even follow up with the doctor to prevent future scheduling snafus.

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The customer service team at Zocdoc even tracks local weather to get ahead of factors that might prevent an appointment from happening. If they perceive any weather related threats, they will reach out to medical practitioners directly to confirm that they’ll be able to meet their appointments, and then contact patients to ensure no one is left stranded. This proactive approach opens the lines of communication with users on both sides, and establishes service expectations in addition to creating loyalty.

Similarly, Oscar offers a dedicated concierge team for every patient, allowing patients to speak with the same agent every time for personalized and consistent service. Oscar also reduces the number of office visits by facilitating consultations and prescriptions through its mobile app. The company has struck a balance between leveraging technology to automate certain parts of the healthcare journey, while not losing sight of the importance of customized support.

Building loyalty through reviews and feedback

Despite these high-touch efforts, health-tech firms who are brokering the provider-patient connection are only as good as the level of service from the medical practitioners themselves. Continuous feedback and reviews are key to this strategy. It’s the same formula used by Airbnb, Uber and nearly every two-sided technology platform – encourage good behavior on both sides to build loyalty towards your own brand.

For Zocdoc users, medical provider reviews help patients make more informed decisions and establish accountability, while incentivizing providers to deliver the best service possible. Reviews also help medical providers get a pulse on how their business is doing compared to their peers and shed light on any under-performing practitioners, or problems in their workflow.

High-touch customer service has helped Zocdoc drive repeat engagement and build loyalty on their platform, as well as to medical practices with the best reviews. But in order to grow its business through new patient referrals, Zocdoc will have to continue to find innovative ways to engage patients and providers while simultaneously outpacing competitors.

In the end, Zocdoc and Oscar Health are two young healthcare companies offering a blueprint for more traditional healthcare companies looking to use a combination of high-tech tools and high-touch approaches to drive world-class patient experiences.

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