Why Does A Customer Portal Out-Preform A Patient Portal?


These are the nameless faceless people who are queued up waiting to speak to someone in your call center.  They expect to be disappointed. They are always disappointed.  They know how the game works. “Your call will be recorded for quality purposes. They know that while the call may be recorded, the recording has nothing to do with improving the quality of their next call.

Inherently, you know that. You’ve heard the same recording when you’ve called other companies.  The call center is nothing more than a big room with a lot of phones. As soon as you hear the message, you know the message is just the precursor to a really bad customer experience.

If you are like me, you want to call their bluff. You repeatedly punch ‘0’hoping to escape from the IVR’s decision tree and speak with a mouth breather.

Half of the callers have already been to your website.  They could not get an answer to their needs, and so they decided to call you.  For most of them, this is the first time they have tried to contact you in the last three years.  Thousands of people a month who are looking for a reason to be engaged with you.Thousands of people who will be disappointed.

I have had a few recent conversations with healthcare executives who have asked the question, “Why are we even discussing adding an interactive Customer Portal since we spent millions of dollars building a patient portal?”

That is a great question.  And there is a great answer that drives home the point.  The Customer Portal, designed in a UX/UI framework, can be designed to do everything that can be done with a patient portal, and dozens of things the patient portal will never be able to do.  Plus, and it is a very big plus, the Customer Portal will serve all of a health system’s stakeholders, not just those individuals whose data happens to be in the EMR.  A consumer Portal will help drive population health. And it will help convert consumers to patients.

A large health system asked me to help them design an online scheduling system and tie it to their patient portal. I told them I would not help them because doing what they asked would exclude most of the people who needed to schedule an appointment; family members, caregivers, and prospective patients.

People–all of your stakeholders–need to be able to do what they want, every time they want, and on whatever device they want.

Each of the features listed under the Customer Portal column can be designed and built today.  Please let me know what you think, and what additional features you would add.


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