The world is rapidly embracing digitisation, with new trends and innovations being implemented in every sector. The latest innovation to emerge is retail giants foraying into healthcare to become one-stop shops. This, however, stirs concerns as retailers are only too new to an industry which has a crucial part to play. Retail behemoths such as Walmart or Amazon have excelled at consumer loyalty in any sector they step into. The way to go about healthcare in this respect may be tricky as people avoid visiting hospitals due to their shortcomings. A survey in America, conducted in 2010, showed that individuals visit hospitals only 3.9 times a year, on average. However, as the consumerist model of care is being incorporated into the healthcare sector, the attitude of individuals towards health is starting to transform too.
This domain has been simplified thanks to digital health that promotes patient-centeredness. Digital health has opened various avenues to increase patient’s loyalty to any organisation. The ways that food retailers-cum-healthcare providers can employ digital health to enhance consumer loyalty are elucidated below.
Digital health platforms provide an integrated system wherein essential options can be found within a single system that caters to a patient’s needs and provides convenience. Because technology is designed to make our lives easier, food retailers can employ integrated platforms to simplify different operations, such as contacting the doctors, engaging with the physicians, paying the bills, etc., for the patients.
Convenience will lead to patient satisfaction, and they are most likely to stick with the organisation that offers it to them. Healthcare Dive conducted research that showed that 51% of the consumers were of the view that convenience and access to healthcare were two major determiners in decision making. Using telehealth platforms can reduce discomfort not only for patients but also for doctors. For instance, tedious and time-consuming paperwork that makes patients wait longer can be reduced by tools such as electronic medical records (EMRs). Therefore, employing a digital health platform certainly forges a patient’s trust.
Employing the right tools: Patient portals
Technology is offering astonishingly innovative tools that are targeted at easing patients’ lives, which is why the implementation of tools, such as communication devices, should be made the best use of. Realising this, food retailers providing healthcare must not shy away from diversifying their system and shifting it to digitisation. Rather than sticking to the traditional ways, showing concern can virtually increase patient loyalty.
Once the patient has undergone their appointment, using a platform to inquire about their progress can make them feel cared for, which encourages the patient to stick by an organisation. A survey that MedCityNews conducted revealed that 83% of patients said they would appreciate reminders from their physicians for completing rehabilitation exercises, taking prescribed medication, blood pressure check-ups, etc. Moreover, encrypted or secure direct messaging technology has proved to be quite helpful in a patient’s self-management, as a study conducted on interaction between doctors and their pregnant patients explicates. One of the companies that are employing the right tools are Epharmix, a firm that automates connections to at-risk patients in order to collect data regarding their health.
Making Healthcare Accessible
Making healthcare accessible to all is one of the chief determiners of patients’ loyalty, which is why the recent trends in telemedicine and telehealth have increased as they provide care to patients without them having to step out of their houses unless necessary. In order to become better than traditional healthcare providers, food retailers will have to make sure that secure and easy access to triage and care is provided digitally and efficiently. AmericanWell is one of the telehealth platforms that allows access to physicians through a video call all around the US. Similarly, 98Point 6, a mobile messaging platform, offers primary care to patients by US board-certified doctors.
Offering Digital Empathy
Digital health allows the implementation of such technologies and services that make patients feel cared for, such as remote monitoring devices and virtual care services. The building of loyalty stands on the pillars of satisfaction and quality, which is why offering digital empathy is quite important. It is essential to understand the importance of knowing about the needs of your patients so that a more personalised care service can be offered to them, a perk that digital health platforms offer to their patients.
Moreover, since digital health offers care outside the constraints of physical interactions, the virtual or remote engagement of doctors with patients also improves digital empathy and eventually fuels consumer loyalty. Walmart, for instance, realises the importance of offering tailored solutions to its customers. Experts predict that with these revolutionary ideas, Walmart will be able to provide healthcare in 500 rural areas, topping the list of healthcare providers.
- As evidence suggests, any healthcare provider, be it a retail company or purely healthcare based, will have to implement digital innovations quickly in order to keep patients loyal to them.
- Patients’ loyalty stems from their level of satisfaction and trust, which depends on how well they are cared for.
- AI and digital innovations are skyrocketing. Various software companies are offering newer technologies to improve the patient experience. Employing such innovative platforms and devices will enable patients to trust an organisation more.