It’s arguable that few people have ever been better than Steve at getting the customer experience right…he’s a legend because of it. This quote, however, is pulled from a talk where he admits that it’s not easy and that he has the ‘scar tissue’ to prove it. Apparently, even for legends, getting the customer experience right for a new market is really hard.
Digital Health, HealthTech, whatever you want to call it, my industry clearly has its fair share of scar tissue and I, personally, am definitely not unscathed. When your offering has to nail the needs of patients, healthcare providers, and payers, the sweet spot on the Venn diagram is pretty small. Fortunately, I think we’re entering a golden-age of healthtech where dues have been paid, entrepreneurs are delivering products that enable great experiences, and providers are being reimbursed to use them.
At Chord Health, we’re myopically focused on the musculoskeletal space. Even more specifically, we want to help patients avoid invasive procedures and support providers with a ‘less is more’ philosophy. Here’s a short healthcare story that shares how we think about multiple customer experiences weaving into an episode of patient care:
Dr. Smith has a telemedicine consultation with Janet who is suffering from chronic knee pain. Based on the discussion, Dr. Smith diagnoses Janet with knee osteoarthritis and prescribes her a physical therapy program with proven clinical efficacy. Immediately following her telemedicine consultation, Janet receives instructions to download a mobile application which gives her immediate access to the physical therapy program. The same application helps Janet track her progress and makes this clinical information available to Dr. Smith. Janet loves that the application is so easy to use and is covered by her insurance. Likewise, Dr. Smith loves how easy the associated provider-facing application is to use, and his practice benefits from the new monthly recurring revenue stream.
Like most healthcare providers, Dr. Smith is incredibly busy. So, in order to keep track of all his patients, he has set up automatic alerts that are triggered by patterns in his patients’ outcome data. Five weeks after Dr. Smith prescribed the physical therapy program, he receives an alert that Janet is not responding as well as he had hoped. Based on this alert, his staff sets up an appointment with Janet so that they can discuss some of the next steps for pain management. They both agree on viscosupplementation as the next step and schedule the procedure. Following the procedure, Dr. Smith and Janet continue using the application to track outcomes.
Six 6 months later, Dr. Smith is alerted to a decrease in Janet’s activity and thinks it’s a sign that her knee pain may be returning. His staff schedules a telemedicine visit with Janet and they reconnect to discuss how she’s feeling.
Though Dr. Smith and Janet’s story is unremarkable to most, this continuity of care was borderline science fiction just a couple of years ago. Enabling it requires weaving together telemedicine, digital therapies, remote patient monitoring, and data science in a way that is frictionless. If we didn’t have this customer experience as a True North reference, it would be easy to get confused.
Now, here’s the scary part….even if your product or service delivers an awesome experience, there is no guarantee that you can build a business on it. At the end of the day, you’re making a bet that the benefit you’re providing is worth the money, time, and effort required for customers to bring your offering into their lives. So, being crystal clear about what that benefit really is counts a lot. For us, our whole offering boils down to two unique ways that we can help providers grow their practice:
Passive Revenue – In most fee-for-service scenarios, revenue is anchored to time. You do something, you get paid for it. For remote patient monitoring (a core part of our platform), a significant portion of reimbursement is anchored to patient-generated data and is not coupled to provider time at all. Aside from creating an attractive monthly recurring revenue stream, the data creates the foundation for the second benefit.
Patient Signal Automation – Doctors and their staff can’t sit in a dark room and stare at incoming patient data all day…but software can. If these programs find patterns that the doctor told them to look out for, they can respond in various ways. If this happens, do this. If that happens, do that. This gives the doctor the ability to effectively watch over all of her patients and reach out when there is good reason to. Ultimately, as demonstrated in Dr. Smith and Janet’s story, this enables better care continuity and patient retention for the provider.
To wrap up this little soapbox speech, I just want to say that while having an experience design framework is an important part of the process, it’s still really hard to know what experience is good enough. That’s the scary thing about new markets. If you really get to know your customer, think about the progress they want to make in their lives, and have a deep sense of empathy for them, you’ll definitely increase your odds of being right. However, there is just no guarantee that you’ll be asked to the dance. I think that Steve was a genius mainly because he seemed to have a sixth sense about how good things needed to be in order to cross that magical threshold. Clearly, it took some trial error for him to get there. Healthtech leaders seem to be on a similar hero’s journey.
At Chord Health we’re learning more about our customers every day and are constantly working to have the technology disappear behind the experience. Thanks, Steve.