3 Trends in the Connected Health Care Customer Experience


Tap into connected health care’s newest trends and what you can do to keep customer satisfaction alive.


Adapted from article originally appearing on Information Age.


From Patient to Consumer

The patient care experience has extended well beyond the four walls of the doctor’s office­—there are unprecedented opportunities to deliver personalized medicine, anytime, anywhere. The connected health market has seen explosive growth in recent years with no signs of slowing down, as Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices are expected to grow to 20 to 30 billion by 2020. This connected health ecosystem of IoMT devices, when paired with the seamless integration of supporting online tools, is ushering in a new era of smarter patient care.


However, connected health still faces significant hurdles as the sheer number of connected devices is creating complexity that can be a challenge for even the savviest consumers. The true potential of connected health will largely be dependent upon the way in which these sophisticated products are effectively woven into integrated service models.


Disrupting Health Care with a Customer-Focused Approach

Connected health is creating opportunities for both new and established players to impact health. Non-traditional health care players who have a strong grasp on the consumer experience are entering the market and shaking up the status quo with rapid speed and vigor.


Collaborative deals with massive retail brands, such as CVS’ $69 billion deal with Aetna, could reshape the health care landscape by driving health care closer to the consumer. Other big consumer players are identifying ways to blend retail and health care experiences, such as the Walgreens-UnitedHealth pilot project, which brings urgent care centers closer to pharmacies. As providing excellent patient care becomes more analogous with delivering a high-quality customer care experience, proper integration between collaborating organizations and their affiliated services and tools becomes all-the-more important. When properly implemented, cross-organizational integrated service models can help improve patient efficacy, lower health care costs, and improve overall quality of life for millions of patients.


How can health care providers and medical device makers better prepare for this transformation? Overcoming these roadblocks boils down to the success of the integrated ecosystem’s core: device and consumer support.


Here are three trends on the rise in connected health care and ways to keep your customers’ satisfaction and loyalty in good health.


1. Health Care Consumers are ‘Retailiating’

Nearly two-thirds of health care consumers in the U.S. want their digital experience to mirror a retail experience. To realize the true potential of this ‘retailification’ of the connected health market, health care organizations, technology partners and supporting customer service teams must understand how new technologies are intended to transform patient care experience. Each connected device within the home serves a different purpose, from online platforms that enable remote telehealth visits to biometric monitoring sensors that track heart rates and blood pressure. This anticipated, seamless device functionality is born from proper consumer and device onboarding. A successful setup is crucial to ensure each device works properly and coexists with others within the home.


Easy Device Setup and Onboarding is Crucial

Onboarding the user and the device is the first, and potentially most important, step in eliminating frustration and educating consumers on the increasingly complex IoT ecosystem, and how each device fits into the puzzle. For instance, a complex setup and onboarding process is needed for sensor-based technologies that support pregnancy monitoring to be fully integrated within a connected home environment. Passive sensors must seamlessly sync with proprietary analytics to collect important pregnancy data points on the mother and developing fetus. This valuable data must then be properly routed to doctors.


Effective consumer support teams understand the role that sensors and other monitoring tools can play in the continuum of care, as well as the environments and ecosystems within which these tools and supporting platforms operate. They understand how systems integrate with existing services, whether that be in medical facilities, in the home, off-site, or in other remote locations. They also have a strong understanding of what is needed to support these newly established levels of care and the types of scenarios within which they will operate.


2. Health Checks are Becoming Instant

Intended to serve as a bridge between patients and providers, IoMT devices and supporting solutions should reduce complexity and make services – in this case, health care services – more accessible to consumers. Virtual home assistants, for example can provide daily assistance to older patients to remind them about medications as well as medical advice from care providers. They can also be paired with other connected devices such as biometric monitoring tools to deliver results directly to physicians.

As virtual home assistants work in tandem with other health care devices and become more intelligent, they will serve as an increasingly necessary bridge to help drive patient-provider connectivity. This makes functionality and interoperability across these devices more important, as a malfunctioning device could result in the transference of incorrect patient data, or even failure to call a health care provider in an emergency.


Health Care Devices Need Emergency Response Support and Repair

When marching toward a truly optimized connected health ecosystem, it is of paramount importance that troubleshooting is done correctly after tools and devices have been set up and on-boarded. As these systems house diverse and sensitive data, they must be consistently and properly updated alongside other connected devices to ensure they are functioning as intended, especially with growing compliance concerns on the line.

Product and customer teams are the main drivers determining consumer’s ease of use when it comes to repair/returns of IoMT devices. The return and device repair process for a malfunctioning IoMT device must be treated differently than that of a typical consumer electronic device. As the IoMT market increases, critical improvements to the product repair cycle must be made because ultimately, the health and safety of the consumer might depend on a timely return.


3. Connected Health Care Will Need a Fully Integrated System

We live in a world where the Internet opens the door to untapped opportunities for service delivery models. For instance, pharmacies and hospitals are working hard to lower all-time high readmission rates, and one course of action is determining strategies to ensure patients take their medication to completion. One strategy is using connected devices to monitor at-risk patients, set up medication reminders, and create personalized telehealth services to better support patients.

As complexity and demand increase, consumers will depend upon highly informed and equipped support teams to derive value from their connected health care devices. So to truly succeed in the health care-specific, household connected devices arena, you will need to provide consumers access to fully integrated customer and product support.


Prescribing Integrated Support

In today’s digital economy, customer experience is proving to be a competitive advantage. Health care device brands are in a unique position to bypass the normal growing pains of providing the right type of customer support and experience by providing integrated support. Product support and customer care are two arms of one body, and, when treated as such, will help brands thrive in an emerging market.


Combining repair technicians who are providing advanced product support with customer service professionals under one digital ‘roof’ creates a highly cohesive and streamlined support solution. Coupled together with the right data and analytics, this 360-degree model can inform you as to how, where, when and why products need service or are being returned, as well as how to improve the lifecycle of products and create a better experience for the customer.


All in all, true connected health is on the horizon and eagerly anticipated to drive medical advancements as well as enable better at-home care and enduring wellness. IoMT innovations are a key piece in enabling collaboration between patients and providers and placing health care in the hands of the consumer. Ensuring a complete smart home of connected health care and other devices speak to each other and deliver the anticipated promise of greater efficiency and, in many cases independence, will rest solidly on how well device manufacturers, service providers, and retailers, support their products and services and the consumers interacting with them.