Omni-channel strategies have revolutionized the way retail customers and brands interact. They also have the power to help rethink and innovate our approach to healthcare.

Omni-channel digital experience is the beauty of taking cross-device and cross-context products and services and threading them into a unified, streamlined journey, no matter the customer’s location or device. That’s to say, a user can browse a potential clothing purchase on a home computer, continue shopping from a smartphone on the way to work, drop by the store, receive product information and coupons from in-store beacon technology, try on the clothing, and order the item to be delivered at home. Seamless and harmonious.

While this scenario is now common among the retail, travel, and even dining industries, it has barely breached the surface of where it is so direly needed — the healthcare industry. Because omni-channel capabilities have helped to accelerate other sectors, customer expectations are rising across the board. Yet, comprehensive digital transition benefits both providers and customers — omni-channel can make healthcare more accessible, cost-effective, and engaged.

Complete Care

More than meeting customer expectations, omni-channel healthcare opportunities empower people to seek care from anywhere and at any time, from their channel of choice (smartphone, tablet, computer, in-person). Importantly, it has the potential to improve overall health outcomes by minimizing a few key constraints that prevent people from receiving proper care — time, money, and a lack of engagement or knowledge.

Time — From scheduling and driving to an appointment to sitting in the waiting room, seeing a doctor can be extremely time-consuming, especially for working adults. For this reason, video visits and telehealth are becoming increasingly popular care options. By reducing the time needed to see a doctor, video calls increase the likelihood that a person will seek care. Companies like Oscar and United have led the charge on this front, in turn gaining an additional touch point and increasing the level of trust with customers.

Cost — Creating telehealth options, omni-channel strategies reduce the need for costly doctor’s visits, tests, and lab results. Mobile diagnostic tools and apps can empower customers with information to help avoid unnecessary procedures (and make appointments for the important ones). Some frontrunners include Doctor Mole, which helps users monitor and flag abnormal moles, and Ginger.io, which helps to improve outcomes for low-income Utah citizens who struggle with mental health.

Engagement — Omni-channel retailers track user behaviors across channels to better understand their habits, preferences, and interactions, enabling them to message customers actionable recommendations. Macy’s is conquering omni-channel by using Google’s Local Inventory Ad units and introducing their Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPS) program. They have fundamentally changed their view of the shopper, realizing the online shopper and in-store shopper are the same person.

By adopting similar methodologies, healthcare providers can engage patients, keep them healthy, and reduce costs. A healthcare office can provide its patients with an app that notifies them when they’re due for a screening, schedule appointments, and release test results all without the use of a secretary. The app could even notify patients when their prescriptions are ready for pickup, when to take their medication, or when to get up and exercise. With the wave of mobile diagnostic tools on the horizon, patients could even take their vital measurements at home and send them to their GP before the appointment, drastically reducing time spent at the doctor’s office.

Staying present with the user in any situation, healthcare providers can help transition the industry from a reactive model to a preventative one, leading to better outcomes for patients and lower costs for healthcare providers.

Refining Strategy

Despite industry differences, healthcare companies — and those in any industry — can learn from other industries’ omni-channel best practices to improve their own success. In undertaking smart digital transformation, healthcare companies can improve outcomes, reduce costs, and increase engagement. Omni-channel has the unique ability to reduce prohibitive barriers to proper care, and leverages meaningful data to create personalized experiences. Healthcare is a major issue facing many people, and omni-channel experience strategies are a step in the right direction for all participants.