While most industries are gunning to compete in the experience economy—where a company’s success is measured by how memorable or positive the service they provided was to the consumer—healthcare is one of the few that’s been reluctant to adopt a consumer-centric model.
But that’s starting to change. In a world where anyone can write a Yelp review about their local doctor’s office, more and more healthcare professionals are recognizing the importance of customer satisfaction and looking for ways to improve it. That’s where Boston-based Docent Health is looking to step in.
According to Paul Roscoe, the co-founder and CEO of Docent Health, patient experience is becoming as important as clinical outcomes in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Historically, healthcare has been a space that’s largely unaffected by consumerism. But Roscoe says that’s changing, partly due to increasing patient financial responsibility, but also due to the growing amount of choices consumers have. “[Providers are] realizing that patients are going elsewhere,” Roscoe says.
Docent Health plans to improve patient experience in a variety of ways. To start, they’re building and selling a technology platform that can capture information about individual patients to help caregivers create a more personalized care plan. For example, the system can track if a woman giving birth has other children or not. If it’s her first time versus her second or third, her needs and anxieties will be different.
“The basis is a [Customer Relationship Management, or] CRM tool that helps us . . . create a very personalized customer service experience,” Roscoe says. “The journey engine helps us . . . manage the patient’s journey as they go through [the health system.]”
But Docent Health is more than just a technology platform. As Roscoe explains, they leverage both technology and people. Docent Health hires people trained in hospitality, called docents, and embeds them in the hospital to serve as liaisons between the patient and the hospital staff. These docents can help improve patient experience by interacting on a more personal level with the patients than doctors often have time for. These docents can collect data on the patient’s general happiness. “[Hospitals] don’t really have a great parameter on whether the patient is happy,” Roscoe says. But docents use a variety of methods to keep in touch with patients — text, chat, and phone calls, as well as in-person meetings and social media, like Twitter and Facebook.
By using a mixture of data collected by the hospital and tracked in their technology platform, and direct facing customer service via the docents, Docent Health aims to personalize and improve the overall experience of people in the health system. Part of the goal is to see what’s working and what needs work on a patient-to-patient basis.
Docent Health is also currently building a HIPAA compliant mobile platform that can guide family members through difficult hospital processes in an attempt to increase transparency.
Docent Health is free for patients. They sell their technology and contract their docents directly to the hospitals. According to Roscoe, most hospitals are willing to pay for this because they genuinely believe it’s the right thing to do. “‘Great care’ means great clinical care and a great experience for the patient,” he says.
“I’ve been in healthcare pretty much my whole life — my mom’s a nurse [and] my sister’s a nurse,” Roscoe explains. “I’ve seen from the inside just how amazing hospitals are in terms of the clinical side of the business, but I’ve always felt…that patients needed more support in a nonclinical way.”
“That whole trend around treating the patient individually and giving them a personal journey is at the heart of what we’re building at Docent Health,” he says.
Casey Nugent is an editorial intern for MedTech Boston. She’s currently working on her BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. Outside of working at MedTech Boston, Casey enjoys drinking coffee, going to the theater, goofing around with friends, and hanging out with dogs.
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