Big data will provide healthcare organizations with an unprecedented opportunity to improve customer experience through highly personalized and targeted communications. However, this opportunity will only be realized if data from all relevant, siloed sources can be efficiently mined and translated into actionable information that enhances the patient or member experience.

Every industry sector, including healthcare, faces a common emerging issue: how to grapple with exploding data sets — now called big data — and utilize this exponentially expanding information resource to improve productivity and enhance customer experience.

The implications of big data for healthcare loom large. Research by MGI and McKinsey & Company's Business Technology Office estimates that if healthcare organizations in the U.S. were to use big data creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality, the sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year.

However, reigning in the complexities of big data for the benefit of the healthcare organization and those it serves will require careful consideration of data workflows. Healthcare organizations are faced with a multitude of relevant but siloed data sources, including records generated and stored by hospital departments, clinics, insurers, front-line providers and patients themselves. In order to manage this information, sufficient solutions are needed with an open architecture that enables the healthcare organization to easily access all relevant data and aggregate these multiple, disparate data sources. Another important consideration is whether the solution can accept data in its raw state, avoiding the expensive and time-consuming process of preparing the data before any analytics or reformatting can be accomplished. Only with these capabilities will the organization be able to efficiently identify relevant data and translate it into actionable information to enhance patient or member experience.

 Leveraging disparate data sources for customer communications
Relevant communications are a core activity that has an immediate impact on improving patient or member experience. Optimizing workflows that enable healthcare organizations to leverage numerous data sources to provide more relevant, personalized customer communications greatly benefits the organization and the recipient.

 Key objectives for a customer communications program
Designing a robust customer communication management program is vital to achieving a number of key objectives:

  • Improving patient and member experience with personalized information. Highly personalized communications have a proven track record when it comes to dramatically improving customer experience. Mining existing data will allow you, for example, to use the white space on your statements to send a targeted message that will help patients or members better understand their healthcare needs, bills and statements, policy benefits, and wellness programs and other resources available to them. Production costs will also be reduced by eliminating the need to produce separate communications as well as decreasing the time required to get to market with new programs and services.
  • You can choose to implement a customer communications management solution that also customizes data with regard to layout, graphical workflow, color management and even content collaboration for easy-to-understand statements and other correspondence that reduce confusion and customer service calls, promote education and build rapport.

  • Meeting delivery preferences. One important way to improve patient or member interactions is to determine the communication preferences of each patient or member and ensure the capability is in place to deliver relevant, personalized content through that channel. Whether a patient or member prefers to communicate via paper (mail), electronic (email, Internet, social media), mobile devices or a combination of these channels, being able to meet these delivery preferences is quickly becoming an expectation rather than an option.
  • Managing processes and content. Brand management and compliance with PCI, HIPAA and other legal and regulatory standards are priorities that make the need for a secure, collaborative document creation environment essential. This environment should enable management of the processes, users and roles, interfaces and updating methods of a variety of communications channels. Software solutions are available that enable even non-IT personnel to develop controlled, personalized communications to be published through a variety of media channels.
  • Predictive modeling. Complete visibility of customer data is essential for predictive modeling and analytics to efficiently manage high-cost patients — enabling proactive intervention before patients become chronically ill.

Big data can either be a blessing or a curse when it comes to a healthcare organization's relationship with its patients or members. Implementing a robust customer communications management solution designed to easily capture and transform customer data, regardless of its source, will enhance the organization's brand and customer service image with accurate, timely, relevant, informative and appealing customer communications.

About the author
Michael Watts is the COO for GMC Software Technology, a provider of multichannel document output for customer communication management. For more information, please visit