May 2019 Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin

Despite Australia’s healthcare industry being ranked as one of the developed world’s most efficient, a new report from Forrester, commissioned by Salesforce, has found more than half of Australian healthcare providers have inefficient hospital-to-patient communication mechanisms and nearly two-thirds are not prepared to meet the engagement demands of patients. According to the report, Taking the Pulse of Patient Experience: Why Australian Healthcare Must Change, 61% of healthcare providers believe they have ineffective central systems and processes for managing the patient life cycle. This means that more than half (54%) believe they have limited capabilities to gain meaningful insights from patient data related to patient service.

Health care is struggling to offer patients the same levels of service and personalisation they have come to expect in other aspects of life. The new model for digital health is patient-centric and holistic, offering a single point of engagement for patient data and often integrating with a patient’s own mobile health apps and wearables to track and monitor personal health data.

health apps

Dr Joshua NewmanDr Joshua Newman, Salesforce’s Chief Medical Officer, said, “While patients expect to connect with companies through personalised, modern, mobile, social and intelligent technologies, health care has been slow to adapt. It’s clearer now more than ever that healthcare providers need to manage patients in new ways. Patient experience technology can help make them feel better cared for, more engaged and healthier as a result.” It is effective in reducing patient waiting times and patient complaints, increasing patient satisfaction towards hospital services and scaling their patient data management capabilities with actionable insights for frontline staff.

Yet the gap between consumer expectations of technology and industry usage of data doesn’t exist solely between patient and provider: there appears to be a gap within healthcare providers themselves on their offerings. Ninety per cent of the healthcare providers surveyed in the Salesforce report are planning to implement, expand or have implemented patient experience technologies. Yet nearly half (48%) do not realise the financial value of using patient experience technologies, while more than a third (38%) are not aware of any patient experience technologies in their hospitals.

Despite the work still required, there are success stories on the Australian healthcare landscape. Cochlear was formed to develop the multichannel cochlear implant and now holds two-thirds of worldwide hearing implant patents while furnishing more than a quarter of a million patients with hearing aids. Driven by a need to tackle the significant lack of awareness of hearing loss and treatment options, the company sought to supplement its engineering prowess with a leading customer experience for people with hearing loss. To drive this vision, Cochlear used cloud-based technology, including predictive intelligence, digital marketing and mobile apps to build a global community of customers who use its implants everywhere in the world, who are also willing to share their experiences of the product.

This data also helped Cochlear to interact with the professional community of surgeons, audiologists and clinicians. It empowered them to have complete conversations based on a good understanding of each customer’s circumstances. And, it’s shifting the conversations from transactional to strategic. In addition to its primary website, the company also created a hearing awareness website. It is aimed at people who suspect they may have hearing difficulties but aren’t yet ready to seek professional help. With the agreement of website visitors, Cochlear One provides opportunities for them to receive targeted advice and support, so they can advance on their journey to better hearing health based on their personal hearing needs.

Cochlear’s story highlights how technology and professional partners can deliver this connected customer experience that is highly personalised to individual customers’ and patient’s needs.

As Australia’s population ages at a rapid pace, it puts pressure on a health sector encumbered by legacy systems, manual processes and outdated technology. Through patient experience technology, healthcare providers can focus on their patients and be assured that the patient journey is smooth, intuitive and informed.

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