Why Healthcare Needs an Open Garden Approach to Customer Engagement


healthcare-customer-engagementCustomers expect to engage in dynamic, real-time, multi-stage journeys that are seamless across all touchpoints, and the healthcare industry has not kept up with these demands. Customers don’t engage with healthcare payers and providers solely through a call center or a physical location anymore. The modern customer engages brands online and offline and through an ever increasing number of devices and expects highly relevant and contextually aware interactions at all times.

Most healthcare payers and providers, like most brands, are ill-equipped to meet this expectation – 70 percent of marketers have suboptimal or no ability to integrate customer data between online and offline sources, according to recent Acxiom research. Healthcare payers and providers struggle to adapt in part because they have long trapped customer data in silos, whether in electronic health records (EHRs) for patient care, billing systems for claims and members, or customer contact systems. These data silos serve a purpose for any one business function, but are a barrier in the age of the empowered, always-on consumer.

Most organizations developed engagement technology stacks in a piecemeal fashion, which prevents the type of unified, frictionless engagement customers expect. Between siloed data and fragmented technology, many healthcare payers and providers cannot identify individuals consistently and seamlessly across all touchpoints. This causes organizations to frequently miss the opportunity to deliver contextually relevant engagement with individual customers – whether they are members, patients, responsible parties, or simply interested people.

Payers and providers need to eliminate data silos and unify their technology stacks to deliver the type of customer journeys that today’s consumers want. The key to accomplishing this is taking an open garden approach to connect all the data and to intelligently orchestrate engagement. It is now possible to do this through a single point of operational control – by using a flexible, interoperable, and futureproofed solution called a .

What is an Open Garden Approach?

An open garden approach to technology and customer engagement stands in contrast to classic “walled garden” solutions like marketing clouds or all-in-one suites. Walled garden suites represent an old approach that simply cannot accommodate the enterprise’s needs in the new order being brought on by digital transformation. In a walled garden, companies deploy a suite of solutions with the promise that all of their needs can be met. Furthermore, walled gardens have rigid, inflexible architectures and deploying one often involves replacing an entire technology stack.

This “rip-and-replace” happens because a walled garden system isn’t interoperable with the existing architecture and ecosystem. Walled gardens also lock up customer data, which complicates engaging customers in a consistently contextual and relevant way across the enterprise. New engagement touchpoints proliferate at such a high rate that healthcare payers and providers can’t afford to be locked into an inflexible walled garden solution. Payers and providers need a system that is flexible and adaptable. They need an open garden.

An open garden approach provides a central point of control for data and operations with a level of interoperability that easily integrates current solutions into a cohesive whole for customer engagement. This central solution is often a CEH, which provides visibility into data across functional and channel-specific silos, as well as the ability to intelligently orchestrate messages and next-best actions across channels. This allows healthcare payers and providers to get the benefits of data and messaging unification without spending resources to completely re-platform. The open garden also empowers organizations to more effectively leverage future technology innovations, making it flexible enough to address the ever-changing needs of their customers. Additionally, because the technology stack isn’t captive, payers and providers can choose best-of-breed point solutions and then easily connect them with the CEH at a much lower cost and risk than with a walled garden solution.

Customer Engagement in the Open Garden

Adopting an open garden approach to customer engagement enables healthcare payers and providers to meet expectations and deliver a seamless experience across all touchpoints. An open garden provides visibility throughout the entire customer interaction journey, regardless of whether it’s online or offline, enabling payers and providers to deliver contextually aware messages at the right cadence and moment to create value.

For example, Nuance recently found that 69 percent of consumers were interested in receiving proactive reminders regarding their current health plan or relevant offers, and a recent Price WaterhouseCoopers report showed that 32 percent of U.S. consumers used a health, medical, or fitness app. Companies with an open garden solution can more easily act on this information and deliver the messaging that customers want to receive.

Healthcare payers and providers that adopt an open garden solution like a customer engagement hub will be in better position to provide the kinds of interactions customers expect. Whether incorporating new touchpoints such as mobile and IoT devices, or new journey stages such as proactive health reminders and real-time interactive engagement, customer engagement hubs are key to effectively meeting the emerging needs of the empowered customer.

Face the Future with an Open Garden Approach

The average healthcare consumer is only going to become more technically savvy, more empowered, and more willing to act on their own behalf. Payers and providers must understand this and address how they plan to meet customer expectations and provide the kinds of contextually aware engagement necessary to succeed in the modern marketplace.

Healthcare payers and providers that adopt an open garden approach will be the best suited to compete in this new paradigm because they will be able to unify customer data across all functional and channel-specific silos, make it actionable, and provide contextually aware experiences to the multichannel consumer. Only then can the payer and provider be certain they will improve customer engagement, craft powerful experiences, and succeed in the age of the empowered consumer.

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Customer Engagement is at the Heart of Digital Transformation


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