The world of healthcare consumer engagement and experience—from health equity and virtual care needs to the most fundamental actions of customer service— is gaining ground and beginning to undergo significant change.

At Carenet Health, we believe the next several years will be transformational. Both payers and providers are thinking about how they can care for their members and patients in new and better-integrated ways.

Meanwhile, Carenet Health is putting additional building blocks in place to ensure we are in the best position to help our clients succeed in a new age of healthcare consumerism and engagement. We sat down with Carenet CEO John Erwin and Steve Harstad, EVP of Strategy, to talk more about where the organization and the industry are headed.

Let’s start with what’s been happening at Carenet—a lot of exciting additions and changes have been on the docket lately.

John: We couldn’t be more excited about the direction of the organization. In January, we announced the acquisition of OpenMed, a true digital innovator in the healthcare space, with patented communications technology that’s designed to activate both the patient and provider. It also stands to strengthen collaboration across the parts of the healthcare ecosystem. And just recently, we announced the launch of a Carenet CX Analytics Group. The group’s first consulting and analytics offering will apply proven methodologies used in industries like e-commerce and financial services to the healthcare Service Journey for the first time.

Steve: We’re definitely putting all of the pieces in place to grow the organization and ensure we’re ready for our client’s scalability needs and our continued expansion, as well. We’re investing in meaningful partnerships, bringing on experienced leaders, and adapting our client relationships for heightened alignment around improving the healthcare consumer experience.

John: Right. It’s all about adding to our depth and breadth, finding more ways to add more value.

Let’s explore that further. What does that really mean in the day-to-day for clients who partner with us?

John: I think our clients are concerned about flexibility. Costs. Revenue. And figuring out the way forward. They know the game is changing—consumers want 24/7 access, they want convenience, they want tech-enabled service, they want relationships with their health plan and providers. Working with us, we can talk about those things and help them meet those needs, whether they ultimately leverage our solutions or not. We want them to succeed and benefit from our collective learnings of working with 250-plus health plans, health systems and healthcare service companies.

Steve: There’s benefit in helping our clients fail faster, too. Healthcare organizations’ structures aren’t always set up with a culture of being able to try new things, fail, learn and move on with more insights. But ours is, and we can share what we discover.

The clinical and customer service staffing challenges out there are probably on those clients’ minds, as well.

Steve: Absolutely. The key will be combining things like AI, digital and automation with high-quality, smartly sourced teams. This is true for both nurse- or other clinician-led support and the customer service function, as well. We’re in a unique position to help from a variety of angles.

John: And now we’re able to analyze the holistic Service Journey, really evaluate the friction points. This will be huge for our clients to optimize costs and consumer touchpoints. That’s also going to be so important as healthcare organizations rethink the best ways to deploy resources and shift their service models.

Given all the change and challenges we’ve discussed, what are some of the immediate impacts you see in terms of the healthcare consumer experience?

Steve: The industry is more focused than ever on the healthcare consumer experience, and that trend will only mature. For payers and providers, and especially those operating under risk-based models, that may mean innovative technologies. Almost certainly it will mean better use of data and analytics, and the redesign of not only services and benefits but also service interactions. So, we’ll all need to be continually digging into the data and science of it.

John: It will also mean determining if the right infrastructure is in place to support the more demanding healthcare consumer of tomorrow.  

Steve: Yes, let’s put solutions in place that are not only tech-driven but also service-driven. Let’s aim for personalization and convenience for patients and health plan members—like they are used to in other areas of their lives as consumers.

John: In healthcare, we all have to be more thoughtful about making the consumer’s life easier and less costly.

Steve: When it’s all said and done, healthcare is a consumer business. Patients and health plan members are customers. We shouldn’t take that for granted. How we build trust around every interaction is critical. Because consumerism is going to happen, value-based care is going to happen. And consumers are going to gravitate to those they trust. We’re very privileged to be a part of creating that trust.

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If you’d like to continue the conversation with John and Steve, please reach out and we’ll schedule some time to make a connection.