Today’s customers can do almost anything with a few taps on their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. They can complete work projects and arrange transportation. They can manage bank accounts and make purchases. They can watch videos and read the news. You get the point. Digital innovation now impacts every industry—and, as a result, customers increasingly expect immediacy, control, convenience, and connection in every interaction they have with brands and businesses.

However, one major industry hasn’t yet embraced this digital shift in the ways others have: the healthcare industry. From the perspective of digital connectivity and customer centricity, the healthcare industry simply hasn’t been held to the same standard of innovation as banking, ride-sharing, retail, and others.

Anyone with an up-close view of the healthcare industry knows that it’s traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies. But this industry shouldn’t be an exception to the rules. After all, healthcare involves uniquely personal and important relationships between providers and patients. Healthcare organizations have many untapped opportunities to create more empowering and innovative digital experiences that will allow them to become true leaders in the customer service arena.


The shifting standards of healthcare delivery


Many healthcare organizations continue to use outdated and cumbersome digital tools instead of the accessible mobile systems preferred by today’s patients. Much of this has to do with HIPAA regulations concerning patient privacy. Complex systems protecting health information behind firewalls were long considered the gold standard for privacy—and there was little need to update them, since there was little risk of losing patients. Now, however, things have changed.

Today’s patients are seeking out digital healthcare solutions on their own terms. Enabled by technology, customers have evolved from passive patients and healthcare purchasers to active partners in the entire healthcare process. In fact, more than 70% of patients now prefer digital healthcare solutions. This number will only rise as more and more customers see the value in using technology to manage their own healthcare.

Given this shift, there is now huge potential for healthcare organizations to evolve their medical tech ecosystems to on-demand solutions that give patients more control over their own care. They can also take advantage of the fact that the same technological shift making customer experiences more convenient also has the power to simplify medical tasks and make healthcare providers more productive.


Customers now control healthcare solutions


It’s easy to understand why customers prefer digital patient solutions. These tools allow them to actively participate in their own healthcare and interact with practitioners more seamlessly. Healthcare companies have no choice but to make the shift towards digital. An estimated 88% of patients say they would switch providers without hesitation if they felt they were not receiving the best possible level of care.

The biggest issues facing healthcare customers today are access to high-quality affordable healthcare services and the lack of patient record continuity across care ecosystems. Patients also want better coverage, improved customer service, and timely access to information from both payers and providers. Many of them want their relationships with healthcare providers and payers to be more like their experiences with tech, fashion, and food brands.

To set a solid foundation for the future, healthcare companies must invest in innovative and personalized digital solutions that empower customers and keep them coming back for more.


The future of healthcare is digital


Patients now expect to have control over their data to inform treatment decisions, set up reminders, and receive relevant wellness tips and education. Many of these processes can be powered by automation and artificial intelligence, allowing healthcare brands to customize hundreds of diverse patient journeys with no loss in productivity.

In addition, breakdowns of service costs can and should be easy to find on web and mobile platforms. This will help patients understand how to engage with healthcare providers and payers—and it also allows healthcare providers to track the information patients have accessed during their customer journeys.

A number of healthcare brands have already begun to use digital tools to personalize patient journeys. Companies like Aurora Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Johns Hopkins, among others, have tapped into the power of Salesforce Marketing Cloud to create one-to-one digital experiences for their customers globally.

The healthcare industry is on the cusp of digital disruption. Customers are speaking, and the message is clear: The healthcare brands that invest in patient-focused digital experiences today will be the most successful in the future.