The following is a guest post from Magnet 360.

It doesn’t take an expert to know that the healthcare industry is changing.

The Affordable Care Act has brought healthcare to millions of Americans who had previously gone without. Mobile and global technology are making the way we connect and receive information more fast-paced. Whether healthcare providers acknowledge it or not, the changing landscape is influencing the preferences and lifestyles of their customers. In order to stay successful and provide great healthcare, you must adapt to customer needs.

1. Start by segmenting your customers based on needs

Healthcare is now widely available, meaning anyone can be your customer. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t provide the best experience to every customer. A college student and a family of four have different ways of living and therefore, differing needs.

“Demographics and psychographics are great, but needs are better,” once said my Marketing Strategy professor during undergrad. He couldn’t have been more correct. An example of a need-based segment in healthcare could aging elderly who require daily caretakers for everyday tasks. Families demand consistent checkups, especially when children hit their growth spurts. Many more characteristics can be compiled about theses segments.

If you haven’t begun to identify what specific services each group needs, now is the time. Through segmentation, healthcare providers can start catering to each type of customer more effectively.

Related: Going to Dreamforce 2015? Interested in healthcare journey building? Register for Reducing Friction in Your Patient, Member, Doctor Journey, an interactive workshop for HCLS businesses. Our partners, Magnet 360 and Salesforce are hosting the session.

2. Build customer journeys

Knowing just what your target segment needs alone doesn’t improve your service. By mapping out how constituents interact with your organization, you are able to put on a user’s shoes. Journey mapping allows you to tell the story of your customer’s experience.

Speaking from a millennial perspective, a customer journey might go something like this.

John, a young professional, has just landed his first job.
Healthcare benefits are included so there is no need to go shopping for a provider. However, there are several different option plans. It is confusing to John which to choose, based on the several pages of fine print. He finally chooses a plan, is happy that the decision is over with. Months later, John goes off on a weekend of boating with his buddies which leads to a back injury. Being budget conscious, he thinks that it will heal itself and doesn’t look into it further. The injury worsens and John sees a doctor and has x-rays done. It turns out that he needs surgery and what’s worse, his healthcare coverage will need him to pay out-of-pocket.

As you can see, a customer journey mapping makes visible the potential problems that need solutions. We’ll return to this story in a moment.

3. Discover technology that enables unique customer service

Compiling target markets and customer journeys will now give you a panoramic view of your customers. At this point, it’s a great time to consider how technology solutions can allow you to go above and beyond in service.

Just this past week, Salesforce introduced Health Cloud, an enterprise customer relationship solution just for the healthcare industry. Due to the aforementioned changes in healthcare, the tool arrives at a most convenient time.

It focuses on providing health professionals the ability to provide better care to patients, through comprehensive patient information, secure messaging, and integration to existing industry systems. When doctors can see a patient’s previous health history from several data sources, a diagnosis will be more accurate. Health Cloud is a fantastic example of how technology can improve your constituent’s experience by matching their needs with your company.

Now, let’s rewind the story about John and add digital experiences.

John accepts his first job. Instead of being handed a stack of pamphlets, he receives an online survey which assesses his lifestyle and matches him to benefits plans that factor in risk. He chooses a benefits plan that is right for him. At the same time, he’s provided with access to an informational website with a messaging tool that can chat with his health provider and health professionals. Months later, after getting the back injury from boating, John messages a health professional regarding his injury. He gets advice on how to care for his back and it begins to heal. Still feeling pain however, John goes to the doctor to get x-rays who suggests that minor back surgery is needed. Instead of needing to pay out-of-pocket, John already chose a benefits plan that fit his active lifestyle so he doesn’t pay a dime. Since John fit into a needs-based segment based on his benefits plan, he received the best service at the right time.

This is just one example of how technology helps companies connect with customers to make a huge improvement on quality of life.

4. Experience healthcare inspiration at Dreamforce

Reading about ways to improve healthcare service is beneficial, but experiencing it for yourself something else. If you are attending Dreamforce this year, Magnet 360 is hosting Reducing Friction in Your Patient, Member, Doctor Journey, an interactive workshop for HCLS businesses. Matt Meents, CEO, Magnet 360 and Kim Arnold, Healthcare Market Leader, Salesforce are speaking about constituent journeys based on the impact of marketing and IT on healthcare. This session is sure to bring you new ideas about meeting your constituents’ needs, healthcare professionals and patients alike.

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