Illness to wellness – the patient care journey is fast-changing

Good health is a Journey. Every individual must be the CEO of their health and be armed with information to make informed decisions. The biggest stakeholder of good health is the individual’s family and the Society at large. The cost of poor health not only impacts the individuals and their families but the entire society at large. 


In a country like India, which is home to one-sixth of humanity and with such vast diversity in education, nutrition, health, and income, good health is getting its due attention now.  The state of Healthcare presents a vast opportunity for innovation, patient engagement and drive transformation like never thought before post the pandemic. 


The pandemic has allowed the stakeholders to redefine their approach to health. The world is waking up to the dream of putting patients’ safety first and taking a holistic view of their needs. Proactive patient engagement is now becoming mainstream in many provider organizations, and for good reasons.


The quality of patient care is determined by the quality of infrastructure, personnel, and operational efficiencies. Patient orientation is the fundamental requirement, and this is where digital technologies can help providers in offering the best patient care. 


Digital advancements in healthcare are propelling innovation and driving long-term structural changes in how healthcare is delivered – trends that the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated. 


Healthcare at a broader spectrum can be divided into Critical care, Chronic Care & Wellness. The key mantra for engagement success is quality, access, & reduced costs, with patient safety and welfare as the critical criteria for the outcome measure.


How do you ensure the success of patient care?

Access: Accessibility and availability of the hospital and the physician to all those who require healthcare. Post-procedure access to be made available using telemedicine besides physical visits. 


Appointment: Minimize waiting time for all services and ensure that appointment schedules are adhered to, guaranteeing optimum resource utilization and happier patients. 


Information: Information and instruction about all procedures should be made clear in an understandable language to the patients —  regular communication during and post-treatment to ensure successful patient care.


Quality: Access to trained professionals providing patient care is a must to ensure the desired outcomes. Usage of adequately maintained and latest equipment with newer technologies help in appropriate diagnosis and patient care.


Improvement of patient care is a dynamic process and should be uppermost in the minds of medical care professionals and providers alike.


Enhancing Access

Indian health care had mainly been underfunded, and many of the indicators in terms of coverage, number of beds to population, number of doctors to population are vastly skewed. Further, their availability is also restricted in cities and towns, and it is not uncommon for people to travel a long distance to get even basic health care. 


Accessing quality information and care will be difficult without the use of technology. It is necessary now to enhance access through innovative use of technology to reach out to patients, and it makes a lot more practical sense during these extreme pandemic times. 


People often consider excellent customer service as an essential part of healthcare. The use of technology minimizes room for error, and providing a superior user experience enhances patient satisfaction, thereby improving the quality of care.


How do we enhance access using technology is something that we will see in Part 2 of this article – Illness to wellness – improving patient care using technology

Focus on the ‘C’ word in Customer Service

I want to bring your attention to two statements that I keep hearing about customer service.


  1. Customers do not have a choice when it comes to customer service.
  2. Customer service is a big-ticket cost item, and we are looking at ways to reduce the cost impact. 

Having been in the customer service industry for close to a decade, I keep thinking, how wrong can these statements be? 


To be successful in business, you need paying customers. Why would you not treat them the way they want to be treated? 


Let us try and answer this question and see how it relates to the two statements.


Customer retention vs. customer acquisition 

It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. It is a well-established fact that 44% of the companies are more focused on customer acquisition, while only 18% focus on retention. 


The reason behind the focus on customer acquisition is that most organizations are sales-driven. The first rule for any business will be to retain customers and build a loyal relationship with them, thereby avoiding high customer acquisition costs. 


Every organization should look at the lifetime value of a customer and base all their customer service decisions on that. 


The critical factor in ensuring customer loyalty and retention is the customer service that you provide. 


Given this, why would you not offer the choice to the customer, or why would you not spend a small portion of your customer acquisition cost in servicing your existing customers. 


Cost of servicing a customer 

The highest cost in customer service is the workforce cost. This is what every organization wants to cut down, and hence they move towards automated customer service options. Therefore, they say that customers don’t have a choice when it comes to customer service. 


Companies have already cut down their workforce by more than 80% in the last ten years. They have replaced the voice agents with IVR, self-service apps, and chatbots.


While this is a welcome move by customer service functions, the fact that the customer does not have an easy choice to reach a voice agent is killing customer satisfaction. 


This has the potential to result in a lot of customer churn. 76% of the customers are always looking to change their service provider, for lack of excellent customer experiences. 


Read more: Personalized Customer Experience




Imagine a situation where you as an organization bucket all your customer service requests in the last year. 


You can quickly identify the ones that self-service apps can address. Let us assume that it amounts to about 40% of your requests. 


You can address a sizeable number of queries using your chatbots. Let us assume that it amounts to about 40% of your requests. 


Your website FAQs and HOWTO videos can address, say, 5% of customer queries. 


Now, you are left with 15% of queries that need to be addressed by your live agents. Sweet, and your live agents can handle this.


Also, there would a segment of your customer base that may not have the necessary knowledge to access self-service apps, chatbots, or websites. They can be provided the choice to reach out to live agents at the first instance.


Wouldn’t this be the holy grail of every customer service function?