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Value-based care is more than a buzz term in health care today—it’s a mandate that has now become a baseline expectation for both patients and regulators. The Affordable Care Act requires health care providers to switch from operating in a service-based mindset to providing value-based care that focuses on the quality of care rather than the quantity of services offered.

But now that this mandate has been in effect for several years, providers can’t just do the bare minimum required. Organizations today need to deeply integrate value-based care into their operations and transform their approaches to stand out in a crowded health care marketplace.

These five tips can help health care organizations add more value to the experience patients can expect at the provider’s clinic or facility.

1. Improve patient engagement

More than ever, patients want to be involved in their own health care. Providers can improve patient engagement by creating email lists, blog posts, videos and social media content that regularly update patients on news and information relevant to their care. To ensure this content is relevant and useful, health care providers can request feedback from patients directly, thereby further engaging patients in their care.

Some forward-thinking providers have embraced online patient portals as a way to securely share information such as test results, physicians’ notes, or other contents of a patient’s file with that patient. Others, like Aurora Health Care, have created online patient communities to engage patients and derive insight to improve their services. By improving patient engagement, providers can inherently boost the value patients feel they are receiving.

2. Create more integrated treatment plans

Thanks to the internet, patients have become more informed about their conditions and treatments. They’re increasingly demanding treatment plans that employ a variety of methods. More patients are considering treatment methods beyond pharmaceuticals, surgery and other Western approaches.

From holistic remedies to Eastern medicine techniques, alternative and complementary treatments are another way to enhance value-based care. To identify and keep up with these changing expectations, health care providers should listen to their patients.

One example comes from OrthoCarolina: When the health care provider was considering adding a PhD-trained acupuncturist to its team, it consulted with patients first to ensure that the idea made sense. Patient feedback confirmed that there was a need for the service, allowing the organization to create a new revenue stream while boosting value for patients.

3. Research competitors’ strategies

While all health care providers may be required to implement a value-based care strategy, clear leaders have emerged across the industry. Providers can identify who those leaders are and watch how they are creating more value for patients in novel and effective ways.

Leading organizations like Horizon Healthcare Services use patient insight to remain ahead in this competitive landscape. Keeping an ear to the ground can offer insight into what has and hasn’t worked for other providers and potentially inspire new ideas that take competitors’ strategies one step further. This might also include looking to other industries beyond health care, such as retail, that can demonstrate other relevant innovations in customer engagement.

4. Elevate market research

To gather insight about competitors’ strategies or what patients value, many health care providers are investing in market research to derive insight directly from patients. Ongoing engagement leads to better patient care by fostering a deeper and more detailed understanding of patients’ attitudes and preferences. This type of research and feedback generation also offers providers a way to test and target new services and marketing strategies, which benefits both patients and providers.

Health care providers are seeing great ROI from investing in research. Cleveland Clinic, for example, recently shared that it uses patient insight to enhance marketing campaigns, increase patient satisfaction and evolve its services to keep up with the evolving needs of the consumers.

5. Understand what patients value now versus what they’ll value in the future

What may be the most critical insights generated from this type of research are not just what patients find valuable today, but rather what patients will value from their health care provider in the future. Providers should pay attention not to what patients feel is valuable in their current health care experience, but identify patient needs that aren’t being met yet. They can also conceptualize what issues patients could have in the future because of current changes in health care or technology. Those insights can keep providers prepared for the future and a step ahead of the competition.

The health care industry’s adoption of a consumer-oriented, retail-driven business model has prompted an increased need for providers to better engage with their patients. Listening to patients and demonstrating that patients’ feedback and insight is truly valuable is critical for providers today as they attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition.

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