Lessons from Liberation: Building a foundation for successful digital experience

A couple weeks ago at the Medecision Healthcare Liberation Conference, I attended the Chief Experience Officer roundtable where we had an excellent discussion around how payors are thinking about their digital experience. We were lucky to have our own Medecision CXO – Ellen Donahue Dalton – and Health Economist, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn as facilitators.

Three themes emerged that I continue to think about. In the work we do at Aveus, be it with payors, provider organizations, medical device, pharma, and others – we see folks working to solve for these important elements to create a better “connected health” experience:

  1. Integration of information provided to consumers through multiple channels and partners is a priority in order to streamline the consumer journey.

Consumers receive fragmented communications across their care journey. Payors send EOB’s, claims, and care management communications. Providers have various patient portals, apps, and web sites. Pharmacies reach out with refill information. And very little of it is coordinated in a way consumers can easily manage. An omni-channel approach will help you expose and address key inconsistencies as customers attempt to learn about and purchase healthcare services, ultimately leading to better loyalty for your brand. So, what can we do? Susie Hume, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience at Excellus, shared some foundational approaches that ring very familiar to what we know to be true at Aveus:

  1. Create an omni-channel view of your customer experience. Typically, organizations work in silos when it comes to channel development – for the customer it’s one seamless experience.
  2. Prioritize critical moments in that experience that you know will make a difference to your customers.
  3. Ask you customers to work with you to design solutions.
  4. Track and understand both progress metrics and outcome measures.
  5. Don’t give up when you don’t get things perfect the first time. Learn and adjust swiftly!
  6. Customer experience is a capability that must be formalized to solve for a multi-channel strategy.
  1. Financial guidance is essential – it’s what consumers expect.

As our roundtable discussed, this is an easy thing to talk about, but entirely another to operationally impact in a meaningful way. Consumers today want to understand what care services will cost before they make the appointment. They want to know what it will cost them out of pocket, not a retail “price list” that may not hold water once it moves through the system. And in many cases, they want to use this information in shared-decision making with their doctor(s). Healthcare companies who are exploring and/or designing solutions that allow consumers to have cost information – like they do in any other transaction in their life – will differentiate themselves from their competition. Suggested approach: Pick a high complexity, high cost area to pilot (think maternity, dermatology, orthopedics). Use design thinking approaches to build solutions. And finally, be intentional about build, buy, partner options for bringing it to life.

  1. Digital strategies are the domain of customer experience (CX), marketing, innovation and service desk/CRM leads, not within the business lines or operations (yet).

We all agreed…. Many (many!) organizations inside and outside of healthcare struggle with siloed departments/lines of business. These internal “blinders” can cause significant gaps in how CX plays out for your brand. Healthcare is especially afflicted because of the way alignment and accountability is established. Problems are solved at the department level, and any experience measure (think CAHPS surveys and STAR) encourages each department to have only a “piece of the puzzle.” Capability leaders in marketing, CX, or Customer Service are uniquely positioned to see across departments and ensure digital strategies fit into the larger CX context.


It became abundantly clear through our conversation that legacy industry and organizational culture in healthcare is often a barrier to delivering on foundational experience elements like those outlined above. Working with senior leaders to align on what it will take to fundamentally change the way they make decisions and lead is a critical first step toward achieving a connected health experience for patients.

What creative ways are you breaking through silos and internal gaps? What questions/challenges are in the way of your organization achieving breakthrough?  We would love to hear your experience!

Deborah is a retail and wholesale executive who has spent the last 20 years leading business teams to continuously improve the customer experience.