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Customer retention—where satisfaction and loyalty meet

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Wearable health monitoring wants to move in with you.

Data today. Market share tomorrow.

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When it comes to health care’s wealth of data, it’s time to seize the day.

The search for health care’s Uber

Health care companies are in an enviable position. The decades of data they’ve gathered from claim forms alone is more than companies in other industries will ever see. The irony is, companies in other industries turn even the smallest piece of information into effective marketing strategies while, until recently, health care companies have been content simply filing away demographic, behavioral and socioeconomic data in color-coded folders.

That world’s changing, and swiftly. Hundreds of traditional health care companies are investing millions exploring how data can help them claim their share of a market projected to be worth $3.2 trillion in 2015. Major players like Google, Apple, WebMD and Intel are pouring hundreds of millions more into innovations that promise to completely transform health care.

Things come to those who wait. Like obsolescence.

Health care customers aren’t only health care customers. They’ve evolved along with every other market out there. This makes them increasingly impatient. It also makes them willing to reward those companies that are first to market new approaches. A recent study from TechnologyAdvice, a company that matches businesses to software, found that 59% of US consumers would be more likely to join a loyalty program that offers a smart phone app. Whole Foods has embraced the idea, adding a mobile app and Apple Pay to their operations.

Health care companies need to recognize that their customers want personal, individual attention. Smart phones play an important role here, too. According to Manhattan Research, more than 95 million Americans use smart phones for health information. They track exercise programs, research holistic approaches, explore options.

Beyond all the technology, people want relationships. They want conversations, respect, transparency, control and information. On their terms. And they won’t waste their time for long. For health care companies, the opportunity lies in leveraging the information group health clients and end-users need so it serves each party’s purpose. That starts with relevance.

A blind man doesn’t need bifocals.

Clients and customers want help figuring out health care options, but it needs to be relevant help. The smart companies interpret data before sending it out into the world. That builds credibility and trust. Companies who want people to think they’re smart put everything out there and wait for customers to hail them as experts. That builds contempt.

Being smart about information that goes out is increasingly important considering the current health care environment. Out-of-pocket expenses are generally higher with today’s health exchanges. People rightfully want their quality of care to align with costs. They also want to know what those costs are and if there are alternatives. This has led to companies like American Well adopting and expanding telehealth services. It’s led to personal health devices like fitbit and the Nike+ Fuelband, which have also brought the all-important social aspect to health care. People want to share their experiences. They want to compare notes. They want to prove they ran farther than you did.

Group health clients have their own moving-target agenda. They know annual physicals aren’t enough. Not when people can own their health care. The more relevant information they have, the better.

Computers are useful. Apple computers are beautiful.

Don’t underestimate the role design plays in connecting with your market.

Successful companies across a number of industries have learned that it’s not enough to offer something relevant or even easy to use if it doesn’t move people emotionally.

Intuit’s Design for Delight initiative drives the company to actively improve or, in the case of its Mint accounting app, acquire products that resonate with its customers. The commitment has also helped bring the company a more than 60% share of the otherwise unglamorous do-it-yourself software tax market.

Domino’s Pizza reinvented how people order pizza by offering a unique web and digital experience, which, fortunately, coincided with a public commitment to making better pizza.

And the graceful twists and curves of the Hulger Plumen CFL light bulb represents one company’s unwillingness to accept the design of something as basic as a light bulb, the quintessential symbol of ideas.

Learn from companies that can’t leave well enough alone.

The information health care companies need to drive the market already exists. More is coming quickly and daily. Some companies are starting to figure things out. And more of those are coming, too.

The right move now means a chance to drive the market into the future. That’s no small challenge, but it’s also no small reward.

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