Patient-Centricity: How Customer Service for Healthcare is Leading the Way

It’s easy to think that healthcare is all about in-person and face-to-face interactions. But no, the health industry is going digital as well. According to the report, the global digital health market is growing with a CAGR of 12.19%.

With this transition, comes a fundamental factor that every patient feels makes their medical experience a differentiating ingredient in your industry—customer service for healthcare. Join us as we explore how patient-centric services are changing the industry today.

But before we dive deeper, let’s set the stage. We’re not talking about fancy medical equipment here. This is about the way patients interact with healthcare providers.

9 key statistics on customer service in the healthcare industry

Healthcare employees in a healthcare facility ready to provide better customer service

65% of patients now expect better customer service from their healthcare agencies and healthcare professionals

There’s a growing demand and heightened expectations for better patient experience and excellent customer service within the healthcare industry.

More than 95% of consumers (including those from the healthcare industry) cite exceptional customer service as a critical factor that influences their decisions.

This means that great customer service is a dominant driver in shaping consumer behavior in all industries—including healthcare. Customers or patients don’t just want great medical care, they also want to be treated well. We can say that a positive experience influences a decision between choosing one healthcare company over another.

Almost $150 billion a year is lost to missed appointments in the U.S.

A missed appointment (whether in person interaction or online consultation) leaves an empty slot in your schedule. And take note—even if a patient doesn’t show up, healthcare facilities still incur costs for staffing, equipment, and resources that were allocated for patient outcomes.

In half of the cases, a bad digital experience ruins the relationship with a healthcare provider 

Patient feedback and one bad experience can taint everything. In healthcare services, if a patient encounters a frustrating or difficult (digital) interaction—like a buggy website, confusing appointment scheduling process, or unhelpful chatbot—it can leave a lasting negative impression. This is why providing excellent customer service is not just a “nice to have” but more of a “mandatory” business factor.

A positive digital experience is said to influence 39% of consumers to stay with a healthcare provider.

A positive digital experience, on the other hand, can have a significant impact on patient satisfaction and loyalty within the healthcare community. When patients find it easy to interact with your healthcare system and business online, they’re more likely to feel valued and appreciated. Essentially, it’s important to understand that healthcare concerns can be urgent and complicated—outstanding healthcare can help make this journey more bearable.

Public chat is available in only 3% of health systems.

Well, this reveals a significant gap in how healthcare industry customer service providers are leveraging digital tools. Public chat provides a convenient and immediate way for patients to ask questions, request clarification, give patient feedback or get help arranging an appointment. The lack of adopting this feature means many health systems and healthcare professionals are missing out on a valuable opportunity to engage with patients and provide great customer service.

In the U.S., nearly 90% of adults search social media sites for health information.

Almost all US adults search for health information on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube shows the shift in how people access and consume health-related content. What does this mean? It shows that the healthcare journey includes providing information on platforms where patients spend time on. This can be done via keeping active social media profiles or creating patient portals.

A majority (71%) of surveyed patients search online for a new doctor first.

Traditionally, people relied on recommendations from friends, family, or their primary care physician to find a new doctor. However, online reviews are now the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals. Patients now turn to the digital world to gather insights from other patients about their experiences with different doctors and skilled physicians.

Easy appointment booking is a major factor in choosing a 5-star healthcare provider, according to 61% of consumers.

Consumers value convenience, customer service experience and efficiency in all aspects of their lives. Easy appointment booking matches this desire for seamless experiences. In minimizing wait times in physical venues, online appointment booking via customer service teams eliminate the stress of phone calls, long hold times, and back-and-forth communication.

4 big customer service challenges for businesses in the healthcare industry 

Nurse or healthcare customer service in healthcare answering a call

While excellent customer service for healthcare adds even more to the positive patient experience, delivering it is not always straightforward. Some of the key challenges in providing consistently high-quality customer service in healthcare include:

1. Siloed inter-departmental coordination   

As much as we wish that all medical visits were minor cases, the reality is complex healthcare needs do occur. And when it does, professionals across different departments must communicate clearly and frequently. But all too often, silos form—some healthcare facilities and professionals of different departments operate in their own bubbles with little coordination. The result? Absolute chaos for patients. A huge blow in good customer service.

Critical info gets lost in translation, treatments are delayed or duplicated (like the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing!) Long, frustrating wait times become the norm as people move from department to department with no seamless handoff.

2. Lack of patient portals

Some healthcare organizations still rely on paper-based systems for patient scheduling and billing when we know that user portals and apps have become the new norm for accessing information and services with ease. It seems the healthcare industry still lags in this category. 

Want to book a routine appointment? Better get ready for an awkward game of phone tag. Worse, patients have to jump through hoops just to schedule something simple. There are no easy ways to view available times, handle reminders and updates, access patient concerns, or even easily reschedule when needed. It’s a customer service nightmare.

Here’s a plus—rather than having a central hub to access their latest tests, prescriptions, and history, patients have to repeatedly give the same information between visits.

3. Limited digital communication channels

Even after finally seeing their provider, the lack of communication persists for most patients. They’re left without proactive check-ins or easy ways to follow up on the next steps like post-visit instructions, screening reminders, billing and insurance processes, and test result notifications. Limiting communication is a major bottleneck in the customer service industry. 

The digital communication problems also extend to one of the biggest sore spots—billing and payments. Without modern solutions and streamlined digital healthcare systems, patients will always have difficulty viewing and paying bills.

4. Managing complex and sensitive information

Healthcare is an industry that largely handles personal and sensitive patient data—protected health information (PHI). Customer service for healthcare reps must understand and communicate complex medical information accurately AND empathetically. All while adhering to strict privacy guidelines like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Discussing test results or treatment plans calls for true sensitivity. You’re dealing with people’s lives and confidential health records here. One wrong move could seriously violate trust and compliance. This is a huge responsibility that requires top-of-the-line, customer service skills.

5 customer pain points and where CX comes in

Patient booking an online healthcare consultation

Now, let’s explore five common customer pain points in the healthcare industry and how a well-designed customer experience (CX) strategy can improve customer service and address them:

Problem #1: Patient needs urgent medical concerns

Getting treatment that takes forever when you have an urgent concern is a pain. Even in that situation, your customer still has to run through the usual appointment gatekeepers, and waiting periods for something urgent. 

CX solution: Offer on-demand telemedicine options and have excellent customer service and workflows for prioritizing urgent appointment schedules so diagnosis gets done fast.

Problem #2: There’s an overload of medical jargon

The world of medicine is filled with highly technical terminology and extremely complex concepts. Sometimes, they’re too confusing and incomprehensible for an average patient. As patients struggle to understand explanations of their conditions, treatment plans, medication information, and more, anxiety increases.

CX Solution: If you have a website, invest in creating patient education resources with plain-language, easy-to-understand explanations. Provide visual aids, analogies, and examples to simplify complex topics. Additionally, let patients ask their care team questions easily so they’re clear about what they’re supposed to do. So, have omnichannel support.

Problem #3: It’s difficult scheduling appointments

For some, trying to schedule doctor appointments is a difficult ordeal. Why? Hello, long hold times on the phone, back-and-forth messaging, lack of centralized scheduling, and little to no online self-scheduling options available.

CX Solution: Use an online appointment booking system that allows patients to view the healthcare provider’s availability and directly schedule appointments. This could be through a patient portal, mobile app, or website interface. Also, send automated appointment reminders via text, email, or phone to minimize missed appointments. With this self-service option, there’s no need to call during business hours.

Problem #4: Confusing medical bills and insurance claims 

A lot of our healthcare providers and customers get agitated over medical billing and insurance claims. Complex billing statements filled with unfamiliar medical coding, lack of pricing transparency, and unclear what is or isn’t covered by insurance plans aren’t funny.

CX Solution: Implement user-friendly billing processes and provide detailed information about medical costs. Outline insurance coverage details upfront before procedures/services. Break down charges in plain language and offer multiple easy digital payment options. 

Tip: Have dedicated billing support staff explain and walk patients through their statements and claims to make sure there’s full transparency.

Problem #5: Multiple doctors/specialists are involved, care feels fragmented

When a patient’s care requires multiple providers combining different specialties, the experience can sometimes feel fragmented and uncoordinated. That’s because critical medical records, history, notes, test results, and other information are trapped in separate silos. Patients have to explain their conditions over and over again due to this.

CX Solution: Set up integrated systems and processes that allow a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) to be seamlessly shared and accessed across their entire care team. A comprehensive, centralized view avoids repetition and potential lapses in information. 

Don’t wait too late before deciding to enhance the patient experience

We can define healthcare as more than just treating illnesses. It’s about patient-centricity at its best, where every interaction contributes to a positive and holistic patient care experience. And that starts with top-notch customer service for healthcare—a factor that’s more important than ever. Remember, you’re crossing over the digital world.

Let LTVplus be your HIPAA-compliant partner in creating a patient-oriented workplace. Every day, our agents work their magic to rid the world of bad or poor customer service experiences and free you to focus on what you do best—providing exceptional care. Contact us today for more information about our services and how we can help you grow.

Need a dedicated customer experience team ready to support your brand?

Book a consultation with us and we’ll get you set up.

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