patient in bed reviewing information on her mobile device

Accelerating the healthcare consumerization journey with digital workflows

by Rory Fitzpatrick & Steven Thill


Consumerization of healthcare helps address patients' expectations of control and secured access to their information.

Read time: 4 minutes

When healthcare organizations and consultants talk about “consumerizing” a traditionally business-driven experience, we need to keep one key aspect in mind: the consumer (the patient) expects to have control and access to information. 

And it makes sense. In any consumer scenario, the consumer sits in the driver’s seat. They make decisions and purchases at their convenience, and they have access to the information they need to make those decisions. And they do all of that on their own terms. 

The "Workflow" of a Consumer Experience

Let’s take a retail example. If a consumer is looking for a new pair of sneakers, they will find information from various sources: different brands, different retailers, word-of-mouth recommendations, social media, etc. The information they need is at their fingertips -- some call it the buyers’ journey. But ultimately, these are the natural habits of the modern-day consumer. 

With advancements in technologies and workflows, consumers now expect that same level of convenience and access with their healthcare experiences too. This is commonly referred to as the consumerization of healthcare (CoH): the trend of patients and individuals asserting more influence and control over their medical care and overall wellness.

Consumerization's Impact on Healthcare Digital Transformation

Enterprises, including healthcare organizations, are embracing consumerization, which can be a driving factor to their digital transformation journey. In fact, Gartner states consumerization “can be embraced and it must be dealt with, but it cannot be stopped.”

In our work with healthcare organizations, we have realized that consumerization is expected during all steps in the journey. Our approach to helping with this transformation starts with solving problems that impact patient care and secured information workflows. In essence, we are an architect, supporting larger digital transformation strategies by providing the framework for an integrated delivery network. Such a network addresses the demands of consumerization, and interoperability and structured data needs that can cause gaps in patient and employee experiences.

A conversation about digital transformation commonly focuses on the edges; meaning the aspects of the transformation itself that are tangible or customer-facing. The fact of the matter is: an effective digital transformation requires a solid framework to be useful on the edges. That framework is the nucleus and its effectiveness is highly dependent on the secured capture and routing of information which ultimately can deliver the convenience and access to data patients demand.

Patients expect convenience and access to their healthcare information to be as seamless as it is in any consumer experience. Information management and digital workflows help fix the gaps to address this expectation.

Convenience of Care

Convenient is not necessarily how many patients would describe healthcare experiences – particularly when it comes to accessing information. But with a true integrated delivery network, it can be. 

Going back to the architect analogy, building such a foundation can solve many common problems within the healthcare ecosystem. Today, patients' experiences of navigating between their hospital, their primary care doctor, their insurance company, and their pharmacy can be cumbersome - information can be siloed and the process can require a lot of waiting. This is not a conventional consumer experience. 

For healthcare providers, this means delivering a platform where information can be securely accessed and shared across departments, but also outside organizations as well. And this is where information management and digital services can have a real impact – it can be that needed foundation upon which they can build applications and services that address patient, and employee, needs. 

Access to Data

Patient empowerment is another key to consumerization, helping ensure patients get easy access to actionable data, a clear understanding of their treatment options and a care plan developed jointly with their healthcare provider. To effectively empower patients, healthcare organizations must leverage an integrated delivery network to easily provide tools like patient portals with secure messaging to their healthcare providers, open notes, online or app prescription refills.

It sounds simple, but it is an enormous undertaking due to how unstructured data is today. In fact, IDC predicts that 80% of all data will be unstructured by 2025.

Ricoh has worked with a large hospital that fills more than 1,000 prescription orders daily from roughly 40 nursing stations. They previously depended on paper-centric workflows which, among other challenges, resulted in incorrect prescription deliveries, inability to track statuses, and long wait times for medication. They needed a digital services solution to make the overall process more seamless.

With Ricoh’s assistance, the hospital now offers the ability to view every order online. With more time to devote to filling orders, pharmacists can now complete high priority orders within 12 minutes, assisting with overall patient care improvements. Each order is now also automatically archived in the patients’ records management systems.

Addressing these hurdles requires much more than just a technology fix -- they’re too complex and varied for a one-size-fits-all approach. Not every patient care experience is the same, not every hospital network is the same – why would the solution to their challenges be the same? To be effective, the right solution requires a combination of technology and expertise with a common goal of simplifying complexities and overcoming obstacles that are unique to each scenario.

Take Action for Success

In today’s information age, organizations must find more efficient and effective ways to manage information. Healthcare organizations and their partners who tackle that challenge successfully will find patient and employee experiences that meet the demands for consumerization. 

Read more about how Ricoh's healthcare experts can help your digital transformation journey in this article.

Webinar: How a medical center cut insurance correspondence processing time by 75%

Rory Fitzpatrick is Partner Executive, Healthcare for Ricoh USA, Inc. With more than 20 years of experience, Fitzpatrick builds and strengthens client relationships by developing strategy and multi-year roadmaps that help healthcare organizations drive their businesses forward.

Steven Thill is Partner Executive, Healthcare for Ricoh USA, Inc. With more than 25 years of experience, Thill helps healthcare organizations build and implement information management and digital services strategies that simplify complexities and transform obstacles into opportunities.

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