It is the end of 2019 and I hope all of you are done with your budget and sales plans for 2020. I started looking back at the topics of “The Future of Eye Care” and wanted to summarize the biggest trend eye care providers will experience in 2020, customer experience (CX). Patient demographics are always dynamic, consolidation has become mainstream and is getting bigger, and technology has been pushed to the forefront for new medical devices and the ability to reach, manage, and treat your patients. Practitioners and practice owners strive to provide products and services that meet the expectations of our patients; however, patients are more focused on a personalized overall experience. 2020 will be the year to focus your marketing, patient engagement, treatment plans, products and services that will meet the demand for their personalized experience.
Practices of all facets, including private, retail, and consolidated groups are all experiencing disruption of the traditional ways of delivering eyecare and eyewear. While you may differentiate your practice with additional services and products to retain and attract new patients, you may be only catering to a small percentage of the general market. Patients are looking for more than just a linear experience in your office, so making your practice dynamic is imperative and starts by converting every touchpoint you can capture by any engagement. Patients want information, services, and products in real-time, or as close as can get so start making technological investments in your practice that focus on uniting a personalized patient experience that creates more value. Just think about how you shop for holiday items today with IoT (Internet of Things) compared to 10 years ago. Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix have all demonstrated how to utilize disruptive technology to meet the demands of their customers and have created an experience we all have adopted to expect. Patients expect the same with healthcare, and especially with eyecare that is a mix of medical and retail.
Gartner, a world-leading research and advisory company regarding information technology, reported in 2018 that large companies understand the importance of the customer experience (CX) and are hyper-focused to compete in this area alone.1 Understanding the need for CX is different than delivering it, which is the most difficult part. For example, think about your last holiday order from Amazon and how easy it was to research, find, purchase and receive it. You did not think about all the moving parts in the background of technology, acquisition, procurement, and delivery that was designed and executed flawlessly to give you that experience. Therefore, it is not enough to have satisfied patients but to have loyal patients and more so, engaged patients.
The customer experience is similarly related to Maslow’s Pyramid of Hierarchy Needs, as shown in Figure 1, where we have basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs.2 The Gartner Pyramid Framework of Powerful Experiences translates Maslow’s needs to the customer experience.3 Relating to basic needs of customer service is communication and responsiveness; the psychological needs relate to the commitment and being proactive to patients that create loyalty; and lastly, the self-fulfillment needs are related to evolutionary service experiences that make patients feel better, safer and more powerful that creates engagement (Figure 2).3
For the next year 2020, your planning process should include how to transform your patient experience from satisfied to engaged. Private practices have an advantage from larger retailers because there are fewer patients which allows them to be more dynamic to tailor parts of the practice. This does require homework and starts by obtaining data internally and externally, analyzing and utilizing analytics to understand your patients better, and investing in technology that moves your patient journey to a loyalty experience. This may include updating your website, utilizing patient portals of your electronic health records, telemedicine, creating an online store of eyewear and eyecare products, creating an app for your practice, artificial intelligence for marketing and patient recalls, along with clinical decision making and investing in devices that are interoperable with your equipment, EHR, practice management systems and patients’ devices. Remember the patient is driving these changes and it is important to create an emotion that exceeds their expectations. We are all competing for the patient/customer experience.
Bryan M. Rogoff, OD, MBA, CPHM has a unique background in areas of holistic eye care, business management and healthcare reform. He specializes in LEAN clinical management and operations, technology implementation, healthcare strategy, and strategic partnerships. Currently, he serves as a consultant for for the FDA, Immediate Past-President & Education Chairperson for the Maryland Optometric Association, Federal Keyperson and Meetings Committee Member for the American Optometric Association, reviewer for the Council on Optometric Practitioner Education and is the Founder of Eye-Exec Consulting, LLC. To contact Bryan, visit www.eye-exec.com or email email@example.com. He can also be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.