Traditionally, the doctor’s office has been positioned as a comfort zone for patients. When they leave the hospital, clinic or doctor’s office, patients are expected to assume responsibility for their recovery often with a limited understanding of their disease, treatment and a feeling of uncertainty about what is to come. Ironically, studies have proven that patients make better choices when they are informed, respected, and actively engaged. How do we expect our patients to make the best decisions when they are literally walking into the unknown once they step out of their comfort zone?
By contrast, the healthcare system is a well organized and well resourced machine. Health data has gone digital while top physicians, specialists, nurses and hospital reps ensure that the hospital experience is an excellent one. Patients who are supported by an expert team now only have have a few instructions or a link to a website that supposedly will guide their recovery.
We believe in a patient-driven approach that allows the individual to take charge of their health outcomes. We “humanized” the process so that the patient experience drives the business instead of simply relying only on technology. This process enabled us to establish customer-centric performance parameters beyond traditional financial and operational metrics. With what used to be uncharted territory and many iterations later, we’ve isolated the most value-driving strategies to humanize the process.
- Isolate the customers most likely to “love” your product. These are the customers who engage with the product to impact their lives positively.
We identified the customers who were in most need of support. Defining a target audience based on demographics and opportunities was not enough. We identified patients who were most likely to experience the value of Health Storylines. These were patients managing chronic conditions and required constant monitoring, tracking and surveillance of their disease and/or symptoms.
- Map the customer journey. It’s not just about discovering their pain points. Understand where their moments of joy and pleasure are in their disease-management.
Most solutions tend to focus on mitigating the source of the pain but we surmised that care also involved setting goals and valuing intangible emotions such as hope and comfort.. People who are ill don’t want to be reminded of their state; as a matter of fact, they long for days when they can just forget about their illness. We built Health Storylines as a self-care tool that not only helps them manage their disease but provides them with a plan, certainty and a sense of being in control of their outcomes.
- Change customer behaviours with a high-touch, high-tech solution.
Although health behaviours are complex to understand, learnings from the finance and entertainment sectors have alluded to the ways in which technology influence human behaviour. The same can be said for the healthcare industry. In building Health Storylines, patient behaviour remained the focus of production, taking traditional coping strategies, such as journaling, and integrating our technology to create a digital self-care tool that appealed to its users. It made journalling more enjoyable and sustainable.
- Teach, train and then enable customers to share their experiences.
Historically, our customers never had clout. Always recipients in instruction, it was only critical that we provided guidance along the way. Positive experiences with the product prompted our users to want to share their experience with peers and even their healthcare providers. Investing time to educate and train customers accelerates their ability to experience the product positively, triggering their motivation to share their product experiences to their peers.
Now, it’s time to establish operations and performance metrics.
In technology-powered businesses, measurement is critical; it informs product development and other business decisions. Measurement and analytics continues to rule many of these companies. However in the scheme of digital health, the context of the person, the changing dynamics of their health and humanity need to be front and center before metrics are established.
Goal setting and performance measurements are critical pillars to driving strategic planning exercises for many organizations, but you cannot ignore the aspect of “humanizing” your mission first before business metrics are cast in stone. Companies, whether small or large, need guideposts to operate effectively, measure success or correct failures. We believe that the team’s ability to understand our customer’s needs by intimately understanding their experiences make operational metrics far easier to establish and accomplish.
While we measure our business based on revenue targets, patient/customer acquisitions, engagement and retention rates, ultimately, our success in the healthcare system is based on how patients connect us to their peers, how they advocate for better care, treatment and outcomes for themselves and how they help catalyze their own health.
Grace Soyao is the Founder & CEO of Self Care Catalysts Inc., a patient solutions, intelligence and analytics company that enables healthcare innovation. We are committed to advocating for patients and consumers when it comes to health care decisions. Our belief is that when patients are informed, respected, and engaged, they make better choices. Better choices mean better health outcomes. Our mission is to build innovative, patient-centered, and technology-driven self-care solutions that complement medical modalities that will enable patients to continue managing their care outside of the clinical setting, with or without the support of healthcare professionalswww.selfcarecatalysts.com