Flu season is right around the corner and being prepared is more important than ever for both healthcare organizations and consumers. The combination of flu season and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has many worried about the possibility of a ‘twindemic’ hitting the United States this fall.
This new layer of complexity is sure to bring a host of new questions and challenges for healthcare consumers. Healthcare organizations not only need to be ready for an influx of patients, but they also need to be prepared for a surge of consumer calls, questions, and concerns.
When COVID-19 hit in March, healthcare companies were swamped with inbound customer contacts and unprepared to handle the quantity and the complexity of the calls they were receiving. This time we know that flu season is coming and have the opportunity to learn from the past and better prepare.
Authenticx helps healthcare organizations listen to their customers. In helping our clients navigate an unprecedented spring, we discovered customers had three main concerns relative to their health care:
1. Contraction Risk
Patients wanted to know whether or not they were at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 based on their unique health care and medication regimen. Adding the complexity of the flu on top of the coronavirus pandemic will only further beg this question. Healthcare organizations should be prepared to answer questions like:
- Should I get my flu shot this year or does that lower my immune system?
- Is there anything I should know about flu shots relative to my specific treatment plan?
- Should I quarantine if I think I have the flu?
- How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19? What should I do about that?
2. Flexible Payment Options
Customers were looking for options to keep themselves healthy. Due to job and insurance loss caused by the economic impact of COVID-19, customers were seeking financial help to allow them to stay active on their treatment plans and medication regimens. With no end in sight to the current economic crisis, this issue is sure to be compounded moving forward.
3. Supply Chain & Access to Medications
At the beginning of the pandemic, patients were very concerned that the demands of COVID-19 on the healthcare system would impact access to their regular medication. They were worried they wouldn’t receive necessary medication on time due to mail delivery issues or manufacturing delays. If flu season comes upon us at the same time drug manufacturers are working on both flu shots and COVID vaccines, it’s reasonable to assume we could see a spike in these types of concerns again.
While we can anticipate that similar concerns will surface this flu season, the best way healthcare organizations can prepare is to implement their own listening program now. By developing a process now for monitoring customer interactions, organizations will be ready to intentionally listen to and address customer concerns in a scalable way. Here are a few tips on how to get started:
Listen at Scale
As call volumes increase, it will be nearly impossible to listen to and make meaning of all of your customer voices. Your goal should be to hear and surface top priorities. Be intentional and defined as you select a sample of customer interactions to monitor. This will allow you to be confident that you’re listening to the interactions that are most important to hear, no matter the sample size.
Seek the insights you need to pause any current or future fire-fighting. Dial your ears to expressions of concern related to COVID-19 and the flu. Listen for social and economic factors caused by the pandemic that are affecting your customers’ ability to get the care they need. Let your customers tell you what is and isn’t working relative to their customer journey. And use these insights to be strategic about how you deploy your resources to add value, mitigate risk, and meet customers where they are right now.
Start in hours, not weeks. There’s so much dynamically happening in the world right now. Circumstances are changing and will continue to change so quickly that you need to measure and understand the perceptions, sentiment, and tenor of your customers in real-time, not in quarters.
We recommend following this step-by-step process to get started today.
Healthcare leaders, you have a tremendous opportunity to make an impact this flu season. Human beings are more aware of their health and the risk they may be posing to others than ever before. People are asking themselves if they should really be going out in public with a runny nose for fear of exposing friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
Seize this opportunity to listen to the concerns of the public and utilize your resources to provide security and education. The general population is tuned into what healthcare experts are saying, like never before. Provide clear guidelines and straightforward advice so healthcare consumers can make the best decisions to protect themselves and others.
They’re listening, so tell them what to do.