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How to capitalize on personalization in healthcare to improve patient experience

Author: Lindy Porter

The pressure on healthcare providers in light of the global pandemic has heightened the need for rapid adoption of technology solutions to meet consumer demand for immediacy and highly personalized patient experiences. In industries like retail and hospitality on-demand, personalized experiences have become the norm - as consumer expectations increase, these industries rise to the challenge with digital transformation. Unfortunately, in healthcare that’s not the case, where processes have historically been built for the convenience of providers - not patients.

A worldwide survey conducted in 2020 found that 57% of Americans believe the healthcare industry cares more about its own needs than patient needs. It’s time to change this dynamic. High performing healthcare organizations understand that a differentiated patient experience is fundamental to attracting and retaining valuable consumers.

“Patients don’t want a medical transaction; they want a personal interaction.” – Chief Patient Experience Officer at University of Missouri Health Care

With intensifying competition in the market, savvy players in this sector are focusing their efforts on delivering highly relevant experiences across a full spectrum of digital channels, personalized to individual patient needs and preferences. However, many healthcare providers experience significant challenges when attempting to deliver ‘in-the-moment’, individual level personalization at scale while working to ensure compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA.

Why healthcare providers struggle with interaction data

Healthcare organizations commonly use extensive MarTech infrastructures with the capability to coordinate and execute sophisticated customer messaging. So, are these marketing clouds and product recommendation engines sufficient to deliver a seamless and highly relevant experience? In practice, despite the large technology investments that healthcare providers have made, they often find they lack the high-quality interaction data and ultra-low-latency connectivity that’s required to deliver in-the-moment, one-to-one personalization.

Healthcare organizations need more than exceptional data to deliver personalization in real-time. Capturing interaction data in sufficient detail from multiple online and offline channels is a significant challenge, and it’s only the first step. The data from all these sources must be analyzed and contextualized by decisioning solutions (i.e. Teradata, Pega, or SAS) to generate action. This requires highly structured data to enable the most relevant ‘intent signals’ to be extracted in real-time, without overloading downstream applications. This lightweight, yet highly detailed, interaction data must also be connected to decisioning solutions within milliseconds to enable next-best-actions to be available before a page loads. Very few data capture solutions can achieve this.

For healthcare providers, who are naturally focused on helping patients and not necessarily fluent with the nuances of data capture, contextualization, and decisioning, it can be overwhelming trying to wade through the various types of CDPs and embellished claims made by vendors. While the shiny promises of segmentation and personalization offered by marketing tech can be appealing, healthcare providers must remember that results are only as good as the data and processes that feed them. So, start with robust, comprehensive, and true real-time data capture to fuel your personalization engines. As one client so aptly put it, ““When you get all the data, you get to the answers faster.”

Why customer interaction data is necessary for personalization in healthcare

Customer interaction data is an exhaustive record of all customer behaviors and experiences taking place offline and on digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, and much more. In healthcare this relates to a broad spectrum of data sources from innovations in remote patient monitoring, to glucose and heart-rate monitoring, ingestible sensors, and more. Beyond the impressive medical IoT devices available, everyday consumers are also using their smartwatches and mobile phones as health devices – reading heartrate, monitoring activity levels, and even measuring blood oxygen levels. Add in telemedicine, virtual visits, and the plethora of traditional healthcare providers and platforms – and the amount of data available to healthcare providers is almost overwhelming. That’s where a Customer Data Platform (CDP) for healthcare comes in.

A CDP for healthcare captures, enriches, and contextualizes the vast amounts of patient data from multiple sources, offline and online, and devices. The data is structured so it can be passed to downstream applications in milliseconds – that’s literally faster than the blink of an eye! All of this means healthcare providers get instant access to detailed insights about every individual patient, enabling them to create a genuine, relevant, one-to-one patient experience.

How your healthcare organization can leverage interaction data to drive personalization

Interaction data provides visibility into the products and services your customers are interested in at an individual customer level, rather than providing aggregated data. This individual insight delivers the opportunity to reach out to each customer with a highly relevant offer or call to action ‘in-the-moment’ - on any digital channel. When leveraged with machine learning and AI capabilities, detailed patient interactions can also indicate opportunities to enhance the patient experience through intelligent recommendations for products, services, or information not previously considered.

Think about the potential for elevating the patient experience - using real-time data capture you can craft a hyper-personalized experience for each patient who visits your website based on who they are, their previous history, and their current interest (i.e. searching joint pain). Providing relevant tips and offers at the right time in their journey shows patients that you truly understand and value them. Where a senior citizen may see recommendations for heart health, a new parent could be presented with local pediatrician recommendations.

When a patient calls in, and you know all their historical and personal info, your team can make better decisions. Let’s say your system helps you realize there's a better medication they could be taking. Rather than sending them to a standardized call center, that patient can be routed directly to a physician with recommendations to improve their health.

Compiling a comprehensive, individual patient identity enables you to truly help individuals with their health. Connecting data from hospitals, clinics, urgent care, and outpatient services powers intelligent decisioning for a connected patient care journey, by feeding downstream systems with an enriched single patient view. Texas Health Resources, a non-profit health system serving 7M people in North Texas, uses detailed Celebrus data to transform health outcomes by encouraging desired patient behaviors through personalized messages, connecting emergency department visits to long-term visits, and integrating healthcare interactions for a complete picture of patient journeys.

What do leading healthcare organizations look for in a CDP to deliver individual level personalization?

Healthcare providers who have successfully implemented a data-driven approach to patient personalization swear by the following differentiators, which saves them considerable time and effort and allows them agility and responsiveness in the patient experience so they can deliver ‘in-the-moment’.

Zero tagging required

Conventional JavaScript tagging is time-consuming and prone to errors and omissions which result in missed opportunities simply because a specific data point wasn’t tagged for. Traditional tag-based CDP solutions are inflexible and much costlier to maintain than innovative tagging-free technology which uses a single line of code that requires no maintenance. The single line of code captures all customer interactions on any channel or device, from mouse clicks and cursor movements to form fills, device orientation, and touch screen gestures. Because let’s face it, healthcare providers have more important things to worry about than tagging.

Extensible data model

An extensible data model enables healthcare providers to expand data collection as needed. Interaction data from multiple sources is used to populate a robust data model, which assembles a complete record of patient interactions. The data model is key to instantly detecting important signals of opportunity or threat from patient behavior and connecting these highly relevant datasets to a range of enterprise decisioning solutions within milliseconds. Real-time is key for relevant hyper-personalization – if key signals aren’t shared for 30 or even 60 seconds, the opportunity to significantly impact the patient experience has already passed. An out-of-the-box data model also means that healthcare providers can get up and running quickly and reduce time-to-value, then expand on the use cases infinitely.

Built-in data security and control

Navigating the highly regulated and ever-changing healthcare industry demands a CDP with industry-leading data security and control. Maintaining ownership of the data (ideally behind your firewall) ensures compliance with healthcare regulations, privacy laws, consent management, and information security standards. Beyond the critical aspect of managing PII properly, healthcare providers must also consider privacy regulations such as GDPR. Having a healthcare CDP that addresses patient preferences and changes in consent in real-time means one less thing to worry about in the quest to personalize patient experiences.