The Value of Omni-channel Communication in Healthcare

“Omni-channel” is among the more trendy terms in marketing these days. And for good reason. A sound Omni-channel strategy can provide abundant returns for both a business and its customers. 

Omni-channel communication refers to the significant shift toward more personalized, one-to-one communication through the multiple channels and devices that an individual might use — both online and offline. 

It wasn’t long ago when “multi-channel’ — distribution of information through multiple, independent channels — was the darling of marketing buzzwords. Omni-channel, on the other hand, supports an individual’s preferred ways of communicating through an integrated, seamless experience across multiple channels and devices. 

Brands across many industries have effectively made the shift to Omni-channel communications and, along with their customers, are reaping the benefits. However, the healthcare industry is lagging behind.  

According to Forrester’s Customer Experience Survey, customer engagement (CXi) scores within the health benefits sector trail all other industries, including cable providers and credit card companies, who are traditionally well known for customer dissatisfaction. Most healthcare systems still struggle with the ever-growing number of channels and customer touch points, rather than focusing on more valued interactions and experiences. Meanwhile, people now have higher expectations from brands with whom they engage based on their interactions with brands in retail and hospitality, who’ve excelled in delivering highly-valued experiences through Omni-channel strategies. And they’re not giving the healthcare industry a pass. They demand convenient, user-friendly Omni-channel experiences, with each touchpoint consistent and complementary, whether they connect via a smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

As digital technology continues to transform healthcare, so too must healthcare organizations transform with it. 

Omni-channel and the Health Benefits Experience

In healthcare, Omni-channel communications can significantly enhance a company’s brand by making it easier for people to “self-serve” and get the essential information they need, when they need it. Further, significant opportunity exists for organizations to utilize systems, similar to those used by banks and retail organizations, to engage their members with timely, proactive communications, such as emails, text notifications or SMS messaging.

As organizations brace for the upcoming Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), consider how an Omni-channel approach can enhance the overall process and customer experience. Enabling a prospective member to access benefit plan comparisons and enrollment information more efficiently helps ease what some may find to be an overwhelming decision-making process. When members can access important benefit plan information through their channel of choice, be it online, via their mobile device, or traditional paper format, they are more familiar with their plans and are likely to feel more connected to their insurer and better served by that group. 

Effective Omni-channel communication avoids members receiving inconsistent communications and experiences through multiple channels, and creates a simpler, more engaged branding experience. Rather than a member feeling as though they are merely a number to the provider, they receive a consistent, personalized and compelling experience no matter where, when or how they interact.

The Cost Benefits

Among the most significant advantages to the organization adopting an Omni-channel strategy is the associated cost savings of electronic communications over print. Consider the cost savings when Plan Comparisons, Enrollment Kits, Explanation of Benefits, Directories and Benefit Summaries, many of which are traditionally printed and mailed to members, are distributed electronically. Companies can save millions in reduced print and postage expenditures.

Omni-channel solutions also enable organizations to leverage member preferences to reduce costs. Insight into an individual’s wants and needs allows providers to reduce dependency on service and support resources. Proactive reminders and notifications, delivered based on an individual’s preferences, can reduce the number of issues they encounter and the resources required to service such issues. 

Bridging the Gap

All healthcare organizations and plan providers should be making Omni-channel solutions available to their members. Whether it’s utilized to more efficiently compare and select benefits plans or search for a physical within an electronic network directory, Omni-channel communications provides a seamless and personalized experience for members, in turn strengthening the organization’s brand, driving value and growth. It’s time for health plan providers to bridge the gap and focus on ensuring more valued interactions and experiences with their members. 

O’Neil Digital Solutions offer a complete Omni-channel solutions for the healthcare industry, enabling creation and delivery of personalized documents, anywhere your audience wants to receive them — via mobile, web, email or print. For more information, visit us at