A Guide to Digital Experience Management for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Companies

Article ImageDigital experience management (DXM) refers to the marshaling of strategy, process, and technology to provide highly satisfying digital interactions to customers. DXM is relevant across industries, but it has a special place in the healthcare industry--so much so that I'd like to think of it as the digital equivalent of the mandate to "wash your hands." In other industries serving to enhance customer interactions, DXM is the icing on the cake. But in the healthcare realm, DXM can play an even more crucial role in helping achieve better health outcomes for customers. This article focuses on DXM for organizations in the healthcare industry-hospital systems and other healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device makers.

The healthcare industry is heavily regulated globally and is not an early adopter of digital technologies and techniques, including DXM. But consumers, exposed to superior digital experiences in other industries (such as retail and financial services), have increasingly high expectations of healthcare companies.

As more of the healthcare value chain gets digitized, the importance of DXM is only going to increase. Similar to other industries, a good web presence and useful mobile apps are table stakes for the healthcare industry. Beyond that, here are specific healthcare DXM considerations to help you rise above the fray.

  • Think of patient journeys-Marketers are conditioned to think about (pre-purchase) customer journeys. Go further and think about patient journeys, which is an approach that takes a lifecycle view of disease management and acknowledges that patients have different needs at different stages. It also requires a breakaway from traditional segmentation models (based just on demographics and disease) to expansive models that consider consumer expectations, attitudes, and behaviors.
  • Fulfill customer need for content-To be sure, unlike other industries, consumers (patients) don't get to have a full say, since products (medications and treatments) are prescribed by doctors. But patients are no longer passive recipients of medical advice. They actively research content related to diagnosis conditions, product efficacy, and treatment costs. Understand the specific content requirements, and provide that information in an easily digestible format. Patients also increasingly participate in online communities and compare notes with their peers. Healthcare and pharma companies need to be active in such communities, as well as host/curate them on social media networks or on their own websites.
  • Personalize advice based on analytics-Personalization takes an entirely different hue in healthcare. This is still an emerging area, but data analysis can be used to understand patient characteristics and provide personalized treatment recommendations. In addition to traditional data sources such as patient health records, there are newer data sources such as fitness trackers and other wearable devices. A lot of medical care is already protocol-driven (i.e., potential treatment options are automatically suggested to physicians based on patient data), but supercomputers such as IBM Watson may elevate this to the next level.

Many healthcare organizations (particularly, pharma companies) have ambitions to reinvent themselves as "solutions" companies, instead of just being drug or device vendors. Personalization is the key to such a transformation.

Leverage mobile for nudges and more-In many ?instances, whether beginning a new therapy or managing an existing condition, patients do not complete the treatment regimen, and such dropouts pose a perpetual problem for healthcare providers. You can leverage insights from consumer psychology and behavioral economics to increase the likelihood of patients staying on course.

For instance, highlighting a specific personal benefit increases treatment adherence rates. Mobile apps can be handy for such "nudges," but reminders and notifications sent via text message can also be effective. Some hospitals have started to provide discharge advice to patients in rich media format (i.e., videos) to make it more engaging for patients.

Mobile apps can also be leveraged to move from just episodic interventions to a holistic management of personal well-being and health. Of course, this has to be done in a manner that respects the privacy of patient data.

Select systems that are a good fit for your specific requirements-Companies in this industry have some specific requirements. Here are two examples.

Regulation is stringent, and a lot of that pertains to business practices, operations, quality control, and reporting. But regulation also affects CMSs. For instance, there are strict rules around website content and content/labels that appear on packaging. To meet such requirement, your CMS needs to support parallel, multistep workflows that span numerous departments. In fact, there are some niche vendors that support the artwork and labeling requirements of pharma companies.

Typically, a company undertakes B2B or business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing activities. While pharma companies have traditionally focused on B2B marketing, they also perform B2C marketing. They require marketing systems that can support this. Understand your specific current and future DXM requirements and invest accordingly in the necessary technology systems that enable those goals.

In conclusion, the healthcare industry monitors and aspires to enhance three vital signs: patient outcomes, quality of care, and efficiency. Improve DXM, and you can move the needle on these key performance indicators (KPIs).  

(image courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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