Friday, July 30, 2010

Increasing patient empathy: what manufacturers can do

As discussed in a previous post, the key to getting manufacturers to have a vested interest in building empathy with them is to insert patients into the customer experience supply chain. Here is one thing hatmanufacturers can do to support this.

Manufacturers can open up their data to third parties: For devices that record and track data, the status quo works great for manufacturers and doctors. Doctors have access to the data and use it, and in so doing have feedback for the manufacturer. The manufacturer considers that feedback and may even ensure that the data provided to the doctor is usable and useful. It's a very closed loop system where there's a solid link between the inputs and the outputs. For many devices, this is the customer experience supply chain.

The problem, however, is that the patient is left out of the loop. Doctors may want to keep data from patients for a variety of reasons (e.g. they assume patients won't understand it, they assume patients don't want it, etc.) and manufacturers may have their own reasons. In the end, neither the doctor nor the manufacturer feels that much pushback from patients because--as non-decision makers--patients have little leverage. So patients stay on the fringes of the customer experience supply chain.

The problem with this arrangement is that for a lot of devices there is information that patients would find useful, if for no other reason than (as elicited in a previous post) than to gain a better appreciation for the capabilities of the device. Moreover, the very fact that patients want data but can't get access to it is itself emblematic of a lack of empathy for patients. But given the entrenched nature of the customer experience supply chain discussed above and the manufacturer's desire to preserve the status quo ("if it ain't broke, don't fix it"), how can patients get access to the data?

One way would be for the manufacturer to let other systems access the data in its devices, essentially paving the way for some other company to establish an entirely different system with its own customer experience supply chain. Except for in this new customer experience supply chain, the patient would be the focus. While this solution is far from ideal, it gives both the patient and the doctor a prominent role in each of their respective customer experience supply chains. Once this is the case, the incentives are aligned to foster an increase in patient empathy.

Image from here.

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