3 customer-based strategies that healthcare can learn from FedEx

By Cliff Miller, A2U CTO

Last week, we celebrated National Health IT Week, an effort designed to raise awareness of the benefits that information and technology can bring to the U.S. health system. There was a consistency between stakeholder commentary and that was the emphasis on change. The only way to describe the advances that we’ve made in healthcare delivery through technology in recent years is, transformative. But, to continue moving health IT forward – we can’t stop here.

To achieve better outcomes, we have to put the patient at the heart of care and fully realize the impact that technology has on a patient’s life.

Looking back at my time working in the IT department at FedEx, it’s become clear to me that as the healthcare landscape looks to a more customer-centric approach, the industry can take a few pages from the giant carrier to improve patient experience.

Consider this –  think back to the movie, Cast Away from the year 2000. Do you remember Tom Hanks as that time-obsessed, systems engineer who traveled the world resolving productivity problems for FedEx? Hanks’ commitment to customer service was memorable.

Like FedEx, the healthcare industry must apply the same outstanding approach to logistics and delivery through technology in order to meet the new and growing demands of today’s patient.

So, what does value-based, patient-centric care look like and how should healthcare organizations implement it within their practices and across their locations? In my view, below, are three customer-based strategies gleaned from FedEx’s Purple Promise that should be applied in healthcare.

1. Focus on personalization.

FedEx customers can nickname shipments and create a personal watch list.

People want you to know their name and history, and understand what they really care about. They do not want to feel like another number. From smiles to systems – patients want to feel special at every touchpoint of the experience.

It’s no surprise that patients (who are also consumers) are now expecting that same level of personalization that they receive in other industries.

2. Deliver fast experiences.

‘Hurry up and wait’ no longer makes for an acceptable visit to the doctor’s office and healthcare cannot afford to lag behind in technology because patients have more options. Times have changed.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, seventy-eight percent of the more tech-savvy consumers say the healthcare digital customer experience needs improvement. Did you know that fifty percent of those folks said that they would leave their current physician for a better digital customer experience?

The state of customer service is delivering personalized, valuable experiences fast.

Cliff Miller, A2U CTO

In my role as CTO of an IT solutions company specializing in healthcare, I lead strategy for hospitals around centralizing EHR implementation and app delivery, as well as design, implement solutions that meet HIPPA compliance standards. As part of that work, it’s my job to get clinicians access to patient records faster. Getting that time-to-productivity down to seven seconds or less, enables clinicians to spend less time on technology and more time with the patient.

3. Connect with customers (like their lives depend on it)

At FedEx, the communication about the package is treated with just as much care as the actual package. FedEx IT ensures that customers are being informed of the status of the package at every step of the way and if there’s an issue, FedEx systems are quick to connect with customers and the team begins to troubleshoot to resolve.

Making sure technologies are enabling experiences for customers to chat with clinicians, request prescriptions and schedule appointments is important but even considering connection in the broader sense: in our health IT world, connectivity can literally impact a person’s life.

Providers must have a strong network so that connection is continuous – especially at times such as, when a physician needs to check the last time a patient was given medicine or provide a smooth transition during hand-off periods to ensure clinicians are equipped with up-to-date patient data.

Without the right technology in place, care coordination between multiple clinicians and facilities takes a back seat and in some cases that can be tragic (read this heartbreaking story that HIMSS is sharing as a lesson learned, pointing to the impact of a broken connection/system).

The bottom line is, when it comes to IT – availability and speed matter and ROI in our space can be measured in lives saved. (Click here to listen to our CEO Dan Dillman speak to more on this topic in CHIME’s Transforming Healthcare Applications and Technology podcast!)

America’s favorite brands like FedEx, Amazon and Disney are retailors that are getting the customer experience right and while the healthcare industry has made tremendous strides to improve the patient experience, there’s still much to learn from retail.

We’d love to hear how you think technology can improve the way care is delivered and if you have other lessons learned from retail to add to our list so shoot us a note at feedback@a2u.net.

P.S. And, a personal shoutout to our FedEx driver, Tony, who always goes above and beyond!