I recently attended the Frontiers Health Conference, held November 16-17 at the stunning Frank Gehry-designed Axica Center in Berlin. Intouch and our global partner Healthware co-hosted the event that brought together digital health stakeholders including startups, investors, regulators and pharma companies. To learn more about the digital health matchmaking that happened at the event, see the post, Frontiers Health:  Digital Therapeutics Are Now More Reality Than Fantasy.

Customer Engagement: Building Trust and Loyalty
One standout session was the workshop Innovating Customer Engagement, led by Justin Chase, Intouch EVP Innovations & Media, and Gerry Chille’, Partner at Healthware Labs. The session focused on the importance of the customer experience and how we can use positive examples from other industries (think Amazon, Uber, Spotify) to improve healthcare.

We began with an understanding of what we mean by “customer experience” In today’s consumer-centric world, it means providing highly personalized and data-driven services. Uber is known for providing on-demand, geo-located, low-transaction car services. Google serves up a search engine so advanced it can predict what you’ll search for. Similarly, Amazon provides hyper-personalized suggestions, and Spotify suggests playlists based on your music preferences.

These companies deliver clear, highly relevant, easy-to-use products or services, fueled by data. In turn, they’re building trust — and repeat customers.

Can we say the same for an average healthcare interaction? Things like ratings and reviews, recommendations, hyper-personalization, predictive suggestions, and the ability to easily share information all feel light years ahead of clunky healthcare experiences.

“Imagine how dismayed a consumer must feel every time he or she navigates from a customer-centric experience like this to the average healthcare experience,” Justin pointed out. “We must strive for greater parity between these experiences.”

Beyond the obvious value to customers, these data-driven models provide added value to the companies that deploy them. With the collection of vast customer information and data, they’re able to innovate and optimize their business, drive cost savings and even provide better products and services.

There’s no reason healthcare can’t follow suit. In fact, research shows people are willing to voluntarily trade a degree of privacy and even health data if it can give them highly personalized and useful services on a continuous basis.

Imagine a connected healthcare ecosystem, Gerry and Justin charged, that connected and processed data to serve up a seamless, positive customer experience. It might look like this:

Workshopping It
Following this introduction, the approximately 50 people in the workshop divided into smaller groups to tackle specific challenges experienced by healthcare stakeholders — physicians, nurses, payers, patients – and how we can innovate by using technology to solve these challenges. Groups followed a proven 12-step construct to unpack the challenge and piece together the solution.

Interestingly, disparities in healthcare delivery across global markets were exposed. For example, my group took a deep-dive into the problem of disconnected patient records. In Italy, patients must carry their own printed hard-copy records to each healthcare professional that they visit, and these piles of papers are rarely read by the provider. In the United States, there were varied experiences between patients who had data stored across disconnected electronic medical records systems to one person who experienced quite the opposite customer experience: All of his records, all of his data from all of his health providers were stored in one electronic hub that he could easily access whenever he needed to. As long as he stayed within the same health system, all of this data was available to him and all of his providers with just a few clicks. We all agreed the latter experience is one that markets worldwide should be striving for.

In the end, when all of the groups shared their solutions, we were inspired by how technology, data and stepping away from the status quo can help pave the way to real innovation.

There’s hope for healthcare yet.