Consumerization is Here: What consumer business giants have taught us.

Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are among the well-known giants of consumer technology today. Each have invested for decades in developing unique and focused technology engagement strategies to ensure when consumers use their technology the look, feel and experience is similar: One common feature they all deliver to customers is their platforms are able to share information across all functionality regardless of the device, capability or location. If you make a change to your Google Calendar on your phone, you’ll find that change saved when you open it up on your laptop. Marking down your to-do list in Microsoft OneNote? No problem. Access it from the board room, grocery store and your home office. Buy an album in iTunes using stored credit card information? Get it on your iPhone, iPad, Windows tablet, and MacBook. We value the experience and the consumer convenience it provides.

This is the consumer experience and it has arrived in healthcare.

Healthcare organizations are leveraging dynamic software driven by sophisticated backend data integrations to bring information to patients and staff when they need it, where they need it. The key to making this happen? Healthcare organizations are focused on driving patient portal adoption. We are beginning to witness a shift which is resulting in patients now having the option of using their own devices, or those provided by the healthcare system after they arrive on-site. But, regardless of how they access their profile, schedule appointments or check-in for an appointment the content is always accessible and up-to-date. One username and one password is a reality and gone are the days of new browser tabs, different user interfaces, and multiple usernames and passwords.

Providers are bringing the consumer experience to the patient registration process in many ways including these five:

1. Bring Your Own Boarding Pass (BYOBP) – Health systems are mirroring the airline check-in process. Instead of a pre-flight activities patient complete pre-appointment registration in advance using any personal digital device. Patients have the convenient option to either print an appointment boarding pass or when they arrive onsite, they can use their mobile device to scan a barcode. Either way they can skip the lines and paperwork and complete their registration either home or on-the-go. The result, less work for staff and a consumer-focused experience for patients.

2. Unified User Experience – Healthcare systems are providing mobile devices onsite for registration as well as kiosks in central locations. Patients can also access their profile and tasks from laptops, cell phones, or personal tablets. The backend health information systems are integrated into this front-end platform, meaning that no matter what device the patient uses to check in or what department in which location they’re checking into, the user experience is the same.

3. Stored Patient Portal Payments – No longer do patients need to carry around credit cards, check books, and HRA cards. Now, they can enter their payment methods into their providers patient portal profile serving both acute and ambulatory services. When they check-in for an appointment, they can pay their co-payment or past-due balances at the click of a button.

4. Consolidated Billing – Managing bills from a number of providers and departments is easy and convenient when they’re all in one place. A consolidated, itemized bill gives patients a one-stop-shop for making payments for the whole family.

5. Costs of Care Transparency – When patients verify their insurance information during online check-in prior to their appointments, they receive an estimate on upcoming services. This is the ultimate consumer service: knowing the price before you buy.

The consumerization of healthcare introduces new dynamics between patient and provider. Patients appreciate the convenience technology provides on their patient journey. This appreciation over time will turn into trust and loyalty, and moreover, the likelihood that they’ll continue to stay engaged with the healthcare system.

In addition, streamlined patient-centric applications put the structure in place to do the same for staff. On the administrative end, this formula results in standardized operations across the organization streamlining training requirements, automated payment processing, fewer claims denials, visibility into operational efficiency through automated usage reports, and ensures better customer service by giving staff visibility into a patient’s needs prior to their arrival.

In taking cues from the titans of consumer technology and developing streamlined solutions around tried-and-true best practices for customer engagement and experience, we discover that patients and healthcare providers will benefit today and in the future.