Healthcare’s Shift from Patient to Customer

Healthcare’s Shift from Patient to Customer
by James Millington

Faster and more engaging care. That’s what we can expect from healthcare providers in the future.

As healthcare transformation executives I met with this week outlined their visions, I noticed a subtle, but important shift in perspective. A patient is now a customer. This change acknowledges the work many healthcare leaders have already begun to do, which is direct their IT organizations to find new ways of improving both patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. That’s because from care clinics to hospitals, telemedicine to retail pharma, and specialists to general practitioners, patients have more choice than ever.

Here are a few more takeaways from my week on the road:

  1. Technology is personalizing care and reducing hospital re-admits.
  2. Cloud is freeing resources for innovation.
  3. Medical office transformation is coming soon.

Personalizing Care

Continued evolution of patient care and engagement models is challenging the organizations I met to not only keep up, but to innovate. And they recognize success in the era of value-based care depends on IT agility.

Since Mercy made a promise 10 years ago to get health care right, it has been partnering with physicians and technology companies to innovate. Its goal of a new care vision with compassion at its core led Mercy to introduce the world’s first Virtual Care Center, which better serves customers and fill gaps in the care continuum. Mercy’s highly personalized vEngagement program, powered by VMware technologies, has cut hospital re-admits in half.

Both the care and cost benefits are significant. More people are getting better and if an average hospital re-admit cost is $10,000, or $30,000 for three re-admits, for approximately 700 people over a six-month period, the savings could be in excess of $20M a year.

Driving Innovation

Mercy is not alone. A host of new customer-facing initiatives are underway across provider organizations to simultaneously improve clinician efficiency, patient engagement, and patient experiences. Our “Day In the Life” demo, showcasing what caregivers such as those as Phoenix Children’s Hospital can do today, underscores the importance of digital workspace technologies in helping achieve goals by integrating desktops, mobile devices, and identity.

Our Digital Clinical Workspace is delivering results from reducing time of clinician access by 10 minutes to securing protected health information (PHI) to serving as a platform for customer innovation.

Behind the scenes, making point-of-care innovation possible, are data center modernization initiatives. Mercy is again out in front, recently launching Epic hosting service with a VMware Cloud Partner. Other healthcare IT teams are also embracing cloud to transition from capital to operating cost models. Software-defined data center (SDDC) technologies are introducing new levels of automation and protection with VMware NSX at places like Boston Medical Center becoming the standard approach to securing electronic patient records.

Attracting Customers and Talent

Healthcare companies–like every successful business–look for next-generation IT solutions to both attract customers and employees. For providers, keeping good talent and paying customers may depend on how progressive engagement is when patients are both visiting and interacting outside the office with medical staff. Seeing how digital ambassadors use tablets and mobile devices in banks today may be the inspiration doctors’ offices need to improve healthcare customer experiences.

After a week of meetings, it’s refreshing to know the direction we’re working to move healthcare forward is the right one. Greater visibility into physician, staff, and customer pain points across the care continuum continues to advance innovation, moving all of us closer to the ultimate healthcare future vision of faster and more engaging care.

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