3 Takeaways from PwC’s 2018 Health Industry Issues Report

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PwC's latest report outlines emerging patient centricity best practices — how does your medical organization stack up?

Thanks to new technology, patients feel more empowered than ever before to take charge of their medical experiences. As a result, healthcare providers are adjusting their services and care delivery systems to accommodate new patient preferences. These changes don’t just provide a better patient experience; they’re growing increasingly essential to the viability of a healthcare business.

A recent report from PwC highlights the industry shift toward patient centricity as a best practice, but also indicates that healthcare organizations still have hurdles to overcome. Here are the top three takeaways related to patient centricity:

1. Healthcare organizations are waking up to the importance of patient centricity.

The age of patient centricity isn’t coming — it’s here. Organizations have to face that patients no longer compare their experiences with providers to other providers. Instead, they compare those experiences to their encounters with other industries. They want the convenience of Amazon, AirBnB, and Apple Music to extend to their interactions with healthcare providers.

Fortunately, organizations are beginning to take notice. According to the PwC study, 49% of healthcare executives report that rethinking the patient experience is one of their organization’s top three priorities in the next five years. Many hospitals have already built patient portals and other web tools that help patients manage their care online. 65% of organizations offer ways to pay bills online, and 60% offer messaging between patients and their providers.

2. We still have a long way to go.

It would be easy to look at the above statistics and say that our job is done, that we’ll naturally accept and implement patient centricity as par for the course. But if we flip these stats on their heads, what does that tell us about the state of patient centricity in healthcare?

The picture is less encouraging. This means that more than half of provider execs don’t see patient centricity as a priority for their organization. Nearly half of all hospitals and health systems don’t offer a way to pay bills online, and 40% don’t have a system in place for virtual communication between doctors and patients.

This laissez-faire attitude toward the patient experience is no longer a successful strategy. As hospitals and healthcare systems fall under increased scrutiny from the government and insurance companies, the model for reimbursement is shifting toward patient outcomes and quality of care. Patient centricity is more important than ever, and healthcare providers need to take it seriously.

3. We’re on the cusp of a breakthrough.

Despite this bleak outlook, we believe that our industry is on the brink of a revolution in patient centricity. Organizations can take plenty of initial steps that don’t require a complete overhaul, like building user-friendly provider directories, providing accurate location and contact information across web presences, and developing navigable websites. All these interventions reach potential patients before they ever make contact with your hospital or practice.

Healthcare organizations can also implement changes throughout the healthcare delivery cycle. Certain software can encourage patients to make appointments and streamline the process, including click-to-call systems and online scheduling tools. They can further remove barriers to care by implementing remote monitoring and providing outpatient services at pharmacies and local stores, reaching out to patients where they are rather than pulling them in. Lastly, patients should be able to monitor their records and treatment plans through centralized portals that give them complete visibility into their health history.

Healthcare is at a digital inflection point, where the tools available to hospitals and health systems are increasingly keeping pace with the expectations of digitally literate patients. The sooner that healthcare organizations adopt these technologies, the sooner they’ll catch up and be able to effectively acquire and retain these patients.

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