IntellimedIntellimed

By Nathan Schnell

Red Carpet Customer Service: User Experience (UX) & Customer Experience (CX) in Healthcare Information Technology

We all know how important the user experience (UX) is in designing and evolving a healthcare information technology solution. We know that it’s important to design health IT solutions that are easy and intuitive to navigate and provide users with the information they seek.

Of course, as a healthcare data analytics technology company, we certainly appreciate and are mindful of the user experience when designing new products and evolving our existing solutions. But what about the human side of the user experience – the customer experience (CX)? In today’s uber-techie world, many companies are foregoing high-touch CX experiences in favor of email support, live chat and other technology-enabled support. And, for some products, that works just fine.

But for an industry like ours where we are serving healthcare analysts up to the C-suite within healthcare systems who rely on our data for business decisions with multi-million-dollar impact, support can’t end at UX. UX must be tied to meaningful customer experience (CX) to create a red carpet customer service approach.

Defining User Experience (UX)

UX is the customer’s experience with the technology, in our case our claims data analytics solution. UX is centered solely around the solution’s usability, structure, navigation and ease-of-use – all highly important. The ultimate goal of UX boils down to designing a product that efficiently and enjoyably meets the user’s needs.

Defining Customer Experience (CX)

Whereas UX is confined to the user’s experience within the technology, CX is broader in scope to include the customer’s experience with all aspects of the company, including:

  • Customer service
  • The sales process
  • Pricing
  • Branding and marketing
  • Company operations
  • Product delivery and updates

UX + CX = The Ultimate User Experience

Before the fancy UX and CX acronyms for user and customer experience came around, at Intellimed – for 35+ years – we have been rooted in two things:

  • Providing the best-managed and most insightful claims data in the industry
  • Offering a high touch solution-focused customer service experience

So, CX has long been part of our DNA. With our newest product IntelliMarket™, we are adding additional emphasis on UX with the goal of providing a customer experience that merges the best of both user and customer experience.

Here are some ways we have and will continue to support the full user experience:

  • Multiple points of contact:Our clients have access to not just their designated account representative, but to multiple points of contact within our company, including developers; data specialists; sales and operations; as well as our management team.Two of our company’s core values are to be relationship-focusedand responsive. To that end, we work hard to make it as easy as possible for our customers to reach who they need to reach for what they need when they need to – they do not need to go through layers of support wasting their time and energy.
  • Client-focused mindset:We are always asking the question “How can we make our clients’ jobs easier?” Being a data analyst within a hospital system comes with stress and pressure. From managers up to the C-suite, people are relying on the data teams to deliver insights from our solutions to inform strategic business decisions. We strive to stay in touch our analysts and ask questions to understand their pain points. We know first-hand that data teams have slept overnight at their jobs and worked long weekends to meet data deadlines for critical reporting. When we receive an SOS from an analyst, we take it seriously and collaborate until the problem is resolved or the necessary information is in-hand – hopefully avoiding as many long nights and weekends at the office, as possible.

Collaborative Product Development:

IntelliMarket™ was developed in collaboration with our customers, who helped create the use cases, test the product and provide critical feedback. As we iterate IntelliMarket™ as well as our original IntelliClient™  solutions, we will continue to seek our customer’s critical input along the way.

Nathan Schnell is Vice President of Service Delivery at Intellimed. 

healthcare, healthcare IT, HIT, wearables, digital health

By Nathan Schnell

4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018

4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018

As we head full steam into another year sure to be full of change for healthcare, we thought we’d offer a roundup of healthcare IT trends predicted for 2018 by health IT writers, editors and analysts. Ready? Here we go…

Artificial Intelligence

While artificial intelligence (AI) is currently used to automate simple tasks, 2018 is predicted to be the year where it will make its way into clinical support and decision making. Currently many healthcare organizations already use AI for clinical decision support, population health, disease management, readmission and claims processing. But experts believe 2018 will be the year AI will make inroads into cancer diagnostics, pathology and image recognition, according to a recent SearchHealthIT article.

Health Data Management predicts that by 2021, 20 percent of healthcare and 40 percent of life science organizations will have recognized a 15 to 20 percent in productivity gains by adopting AI technology, noting that adoption resides mostly in large academic medical centers at present. Industry analyst Forrester predicts that AI as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) will be part of the disruption of siloed healthcare ecosystems in 2018.

Digital Health

According to seed fund Rock Health, a record-breaking $3.5 billion was invested in 188 digital health companies in the first half of 2017, with the number of wearables is set to hit 34 million by 2022.

Digital health has been gaining momentum for many years with the wearable trend. According to a Forbes article, the most frequent users of wearables are the least likely to be hospitalized.

Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued new guidelines that loosen regulations for some mobile health technologies, recognizing that clinical evidence supports better health outcomes with mobile device usage. This change will likely encourage healthcare organizations to better embrace the integration of consumer digital health device data.

Telehealth and telemedicine are predicted to grow as more states update laws to expand access to these services. With one in five U.S. adults suffering from mental illness, a noteworthy predicted area of expansion is telemental and telebehavioral health services, according an article by SearchHealthIT.

Blockchain

The promise of blockchain, the technology invented to power Bitcoin, has been around since 2008. However, this year may be the year its value starts to be recognized and leveraged within healthcare. HealthDataManagement predicts that by 2020, 20 percent of healthcare organizations will be using blockchain for operations management and patient identity.

However, as noted by SearchHealthIT, blockchain has “yet to prove itself in the demanding crucible of health IT systems and clinical healthcare settings,” but notes that “IBM, Intel, Google, Microsoft  and others have units dedicated to development of blockchain products, including for healthcare.” Federal health IT officials are promoting it heavily as well.

Electronic Health Record Analytics

To be successful, EHRs will need to move into providing analytics that support population health initiatives and value-based healthcare – and many predict 2018 will be the year where headway will be made by EHRs in analytics. The big players like Cerner and Epic already have population health products and other smaller vendors like cloud-based AthenaHealth do as well. More are predicted to join and more healthcare organizations will likely take advantage of these products.

Nathan Schnell is Vice President of Service Delivery at Intellimed. 

By Nathan Schnell

Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: Trends, Challenges and Why We Need It

Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: Trends, Challenges and Why We Need It

Data from the National Academy of Medicine shows that the U.S. healthcare system spends $750 billion annually – almost a third of its resources – on unnecessary services and inefficient care.

Predictive analytics tools, long used in other industries like retail to forecast the likelihood of an event, are one of the critical tools for reducing healthcare waste and improving patient care and outcomes.

A 2017 survey by the Society of Actuaries looked at the trends in use and future use of predictive analytics in healthcare:

  • 57% of executives (providers and payers) forecast predictive analytics will save their organization 15% or more over the next 5 years, with 26% forecasting saving 25% or more over the next five years.
  • 47% of providers currently use predictive analytics.
  • 93% say predictive analytics is important to the future of their business.
  • Providers cite patient satisfaction as the most valuable outcome for using predictive analytics.
  • Payers cite controlling costs as the most valuable outcome for use of predictive analytics.

Despite what seems like strong support from this data, there are major barriers to the adoption of predictive analytics in healthcare.

Challenges to Using Predictive Analytics in Healthcare

The top 5 challenges for implementing predictive analytics from the Society of Actuaries study are:

  • Lack of budget – 16%
  • Regulatory issues (e.g. HIPAA) – 13%
  • Incomplete data – 12%
  • Lack of skilled employees – 11%
  • Lack of sufficient technology – 10%

In addition, a recent Harvard Business Review article notes that the success of predictive analytics in healthcare depends less on the tool used and more on the buy-in at all levels of an organization from the start. The authors cite the following major challenges:

  • Engaging the right people from the outset – Whether the tool is developed in-house or purchased off-the-shelf, the right people should be involved in the process, with a multi-disciplinary team comprised of clinical, analytics, data science, information technology and behavior change skill sets.
  • Change agents and clinical champions – Change agents are essential to successfully implementing predictive analytics, particularly for sustaining its usage. These individuals often work alongside clinicians to map workflows and identify changes and new processes. In addition, clinical champions are a must to promote the tool among their clinical peers.
  • C-suite commitment – Frontline buy-in is essential, but without the full commitment of the C-suite, predictive analytics won’t take off or be fully utilized. Identifying measures that resonate with management is important, such as financial penalties associated with hospitals readmissions.

Why Implement Predictive Analytics in Healthcare?

As noted in the HBR article, “Implementing predictive analytics is a means to an end – where the end should represent an improvement in health or health care outcomes, including lower costs.”

Additional major reasons as noted in Hospitals & Health Networks include:

  • Success in the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, which may be impossible without the use of predictive analytics, along with data warehousing and integration.
  • Being able to understand a healthcare system’s current state is a must for being able to forecast a desired future state and associated plan to get there.
  • The ability to get in front of healthcare consumer trends.
  • Supporting population health initiatives.
  • Improving patient care: reducing hospital readmissions, reducing hospital stays, anticipate staff needs and more.

Ultimately, predictive analytics in healthcare is about translating data and science into practical applications to solve complex clinical and business problems that improve care and control costs. The end game? Strategic, cost-effective high-value care.

healthcare data security, healthcare patient privacy, healthcare cybersecurity

By Nathan Schnell

Healthcare Cybersecurity: The Current Landscape and Critical Prevention Steps

Healthcare Cybersecurity: The Current Landscape and Critical Prevention Steps

Last month Ascension Health, which runs Seton Healthcare Family hospital network in Austin, TX, announced that a computer virus was discovered on its computer network.

Seton’s response? They shut down around 3,600 devices as a precautionary measure while the incident was investigated. Fortunately, Seton was prepared for such a cyberattack, implemented a fast response and was able to reduce the impact of the attack.

Cybersecurity continues to rank a major concern for healthcare executives. HealthIT Security recently reported that with two years of a steadily increasing cyber threat landscape with record number of patient records compromised, health organizations extorted financially and hospital operations disrupted, things will continue to be challenging in this space.

Furthermore, on average, a single cyberattack instance costs a whopping $4 million.

Digital transformation is fueling changes to security strategies and is rapidly occurring and reshaping all businesses, including healthcare. In a recent Forbes Insight report entitled Enterprises Re-Engineer Security in the Age of Digital Transformation, 69% of senior executives surveyed believe that digital transformation is forcing them to rethink their cybersecurity strategies.

The Forbes Insight report notes the following four assets executives cited as most important to protect against a security breach:

  • Corporate financial information
  • Customer information
  • Brand reputation
  • R&D and other intellectual property

The report notes the following technologies with the biggest security implications:

  • Public-cloud software
  • Big data applications
  • Mobile business applications
  • Hybrid clouds

At INTELLIMED, a healthcare IT data analytics company, we provide data that becomes part of a hospital’s larger big data set. We know how important protecting data is, notably around patient privacy and safety.

A January 2017 article in HealthcareITNews notes the following as critical steps for healthcare systems to take to reduce their vulnerability to cyberattacks, according to security experts:

  • Risk Assessments – With the limited funding most healthcare organizations experience, risk assessments help identify what most needs protected.
  • Disaster Recovery and Contingency Plans – These plans should include not only medical and billing records, but contingencies for email, departments reliant upon the network and departments with high-tech equipment like lab, pharmacy or imaging.
  • Dedicated Sec-Op Teams – These dedicated teams handle security, hunt threats, educate staff and perform pen tests.
  • Business Associate/Vendor Security – Proper vetting of vendors’ risk assessment, requirement of indemnification provisions and cybersecurity insurance in business associate agreements along with selecting vendors with a demonstrated track record with ‘security by design.’
  • Employee Training – Simplifying the education so it’s easy to remember and practicing the action plan for an attack often.
  • Layered Defense – Looking to target areas where layers of cyber defense can be added.
  • Improved Tech Hygiene – System upgrades and patches should be kept up-to-date and routinely checked to minimize system vulnerabilities.
  • Cybersecurity Partnerships – Finding the right partners can greatly reduce the chances for attack and increase the cybersecurity strategy.
  • Better Software – A short list of technologies includes next-generation firewalls, advanced malware detection, email and web gateways, multi-factor authentication, encryption, vaulting solutions and outsourcing security information and event management.
  • Forensic Consultants – Before a crisis does occur, it’s good to have a forensic consultant on-hand to provide insights on weaknesses, liabilities and security reports.

The earlier referenced Forbes Insight report notes the four areas as primary initiatives undertaken by organizations to be less attractive to hackers, which aligns with the recommendations from HealthcareITNews.

  • Expanded vulnerability discovery and breach remediation
  • Invested in employee security training
  • Upgraded or introduced antivirus software, anti-malware software or intrusion detection/prevention systems
  • Put more resources into defending against zero-day exploits

The report notes these areas for the highest security investments in the near-term:

IT and automated patching systems

  • Cloud-based security tracking and management systems
  • Break detection systems
  • Data protection and compliance, such as encryption and data-loss prevention systems

Cybersecurity within all industries, including healthcare is a never-ending challenge as well as a moving target. It’s worth a final note that while this article focuses more on the technological issues around cybersecurity, preventing cyberattacks has as much to do with culture and organizational structure as it does with technology.

Nathan Schnell serves on INTELLIMED’s leadership team as vice president of service delivery, where he focuses on providing stellar customer service to clients, expanding products and market growth.

technology customer service

By Nathan Schnell

The Lost Value of Customer Service in the Tech Era

As a healthcare data analytics company, like many software companies, we automate certain processes for efficiency and scale. But, we take a completely different, more integrated approach when it comes to customer service, one we’d like to see more of among technology companies.

Automation has its upside, for sure. It allows us to get a jump on customer service issues and helps improve the quality and speed at which we deliver our service. Routine communication to our clients can be automated, customer data can be merged across systems and business processes can be integrated.

With the many benefits of automation also come challenges and potential pitfalls, including:

  • Slow or incomplete resolution
  • Customer aggravation and stress
  • Damage to your brand

Here are some ways we believe stellar customer service in the tech-driven software era can set a technology company apart.

Human-to-Human Approach: A Key Differentiator

I’m sure we can all recall a situation where we called a support phone number only to be endlessly placed on hold, transferred multiple times and then, finally, to be dropped from the call, forcing us to call back and start all over again. Or not.

Thus, the potential downfall of customer service automation. In those situations, wouldn’t it have been nice to have the option to just speak with an actual human?

At INTELLIMED, we take the approach that while automation is vital and provides many benefits to our customers, we also know it’s important to take a human-to-human perspective as well and strive to create authentic connections with our customers.

This means providing customers with the option to talk to a real live human, when needed, and to do so easily. It means reaching out to customers proactively to see how we can assist and support them, not just in the future, but today. This means making part of our company culture and everyday thinking about how we support our customers as if they were sitting in the same room with us.

In today’s tech-driven world, where it’s hard to sustain a competitive edge on technology or price, human-to-human customer service may be the only real differentiator.

Solution-Oriented Problem Solving

Even with the most top-notch products and services, things go wrong sometimes. And, it’s often how problems are dealt with that determines whether a customer will stick with you long-term or not. We like this nine-step problem-solving formula by Brian Tracy:

  • Clearly define the problem
  • Pursue alternate paths on “facts of life” and opportunities
  • Challenge the definition from all angles
  • Iteratively question the cause of the problem
  • Identify multiple possible solutions
  • Prioritize potential solutions
  • Decide
  • Assign responsibility
  • Set a measure for the solution

Compassion, Timeliness & Efficiency
You don’t often hear tech companies talk about compassionate customer service, but we think it’s important. Isn’t it refreshing (and, increasingly rare) to encounter a compassionate customer service person? If you’ve had such an experience, I bet you remember it – and the product or service – and would give that company your business again.

But it’s not enough to merely solve a problem with compassion, the challenge must be resolved efficiently and quickly. Even for situations where there is not necessarily a problem, providing efficient and timely customer service for customer questions and requests will set your company apart.

One important note about providing customer service that is efficient and timely is that it requires training and then empowering your customer service team to deal with customer issues; whereby, there is a direct link between employee empowerment and long-term customer relationships. A great book on this approach is The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence.

Understanding Customers’ Needs
Regular communication with customers helps us understand their needs so we can make updates to our data analytics software and business processes to better serves customers. Good communication also helps us manage possible risks and avoid potential problems.

Some possible ways to collect customer input include:

  • User groups
  • Online surveys
  • Phone interviews
  • Customer focus groups

Once updates and enhancements are made to software based on customer input, we can then communicate those updates to our customers, letting them know their needs were heard and addressed. 

Ongoing Product Support
Once a software sale is made, there is typically an initial customer training. Unfortunately, training and support often end there. Providing ongoing, 24/7 training support resources can help customers learn how to use the software and reap maximum benefits from it.

Ideas for ways to provide support include:

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document
  • Online training in the form of pre-recorded webinars and web pages with step-by-step instructions
  • Monthly email with tips on how to most effectively use the software
  • Routine client check-in calls
  • And, of course, the option to call a support line and speak with a human being

Account History and Knowledge
Unfortunately, account management turnover does occur. What often doesn’t occur is a smooth transition of an account from one sales representative to another. A sign of good customer service in software sales is a sales rep that has a strong knowledge of a customer’s account history. We’ve learned that relationships often trump pricing – when a customer feels their sales rep has a good handle on their account and is a human to them rather than a number, that goes a long way in account retention.

Your Thoughts?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to provide stellar customer service in the age of software and automation.

Nathan Schnell serves on INTELLIMED’s leadership team as vice president of service delivery, where he focuses on providing stellar customer service to clients, expanding products and market growth.

Red Carpet Customer Service: User Experience (UX) & Customer Experience (CX) in Healthcare Information Technology
healthcare, healthcare IT, HIT, wearables, digital health
4 Healthcare IT Trends to Watch in 2018
Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: Trends, Challenges and Why We Need It
healthcare data security, healthcare patient privacy, healthcare cybersecurity
Healthcare Cybersecurity: The Current Landscape and Critical Prevention Steps
technology customer service
The Lost Value of Customer Service in the Tech Era