In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Apple transformed the already-booming technology industry with an incredibly simple line of products: the iMac. Through their laser-focus on consumer needs, attention to detail, and vision, they have become an absolute powerhouse. Let’s dig into what Apple got right, how it applies to urgent care, and what business strategies you can borrow from Apple to transform your operations.
Your “product” is the most important thing to get right
Apple took something that was notoriously difficult to use—technology—and made it intuitive. Before Apple’s turnaround in the 90s, technology was a tough space to navigate for the average consumer. Apple’s goal was to make technology approachable for everyone, and they succeeded. Even toddlers can pick up an iPhone and understand intuitively how it works.
Your urgent care “product” is the visit, as well as and everything the patient experiences before, during, and after visiting your clinic. The healthcare industry has historically been difficult and costly for the average consumer to navigate. The industry has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with consumers taking control of their healthcare experience via telehealth and online booking. The industry will keep evolving to lean into consumer needs—creating patient experiences that are easy, affordable, and equitable.
You don’t need to invent a brand new “product,” either. Take your existing product—the urgent care visit—look at each touchpoint the consumer has, and reimagine what it could look like if the patient was in charge of putting it together. Look at your existing workflows and think through where you can make adjustments.
Some Solv partners have made tiny tweaks to their processes to repackage their “product” and make it more consumer-friendly. Here are some ideas:
Offer online booking. Over 70% of patients search for healthcare online, and most HDHP consumers are shopping around before they choose where they go for care. The best thing you can do is show online availability for your urgent care and have a product that they can find.
Allow patients to self-triage via telemed. Offer telemedicine appointments during the online booking process to help patients self-triage—this also helps load balance at the clinics! A patient with pink eye sees that they can book a telemed appointment and don’t even need to go into the clinic to get a prescription—can you imagine a better healthcare experience?
Show multiple clinics during booking. Patients value right-now care, and they’re willing to travel a bit to be seen faster. Keep patients locked into your brand by showing multiple locations with multiple times available in the same view.
Building trust sets you apart
What motivates you, as a leader in your urgent care business? Is it providing great care? Is it revenue and growing your business? Something else? Steve Jobs’ motivation wasn’t getting rich. It was making a product he believed in. Do you believe in your product?
Jobs also knew that in order to gain customers—to create loyalty to the brand—he needed to create a product customers could depend on. In his biography, Apple’s marketing strategy is summed up as this:
- Understand and serve the customer better than anyone else
- Forget about everything else
- Make sure every little thing you do serves (1), always and everywhere
It’s a clear and purposeful vision that focuses the entire organization on the consumer. It’s so powerful that this vision still drives Apple 30 years after its inception. Jobs focused Apple on set of core products, and he got every single detail right for the consumer. The result was a brand that consumers trust. Consumers know that when they get a new Apple product, it will be easy to set up, updates will be automatic, etc. Their experience with the brand is consistent. The consumer knows the quality of the product and are willing to pay a bit more because they love their experience with it.
Keep UX simple, yet meaningful
So how does Apple create products that are universally loved? How do they foster customer loyalty? They focus on user experience. They don’t create an iPhone with every single feature available on the market. They streamline, with a laser focus on their customer and how the customer will use their product. Every touchpoint a consumer has with Apple products is useful, meaningful, and delightful—never frustrating or effortful.
Every feature of Apple products has a purpose, and Apple makes every detail count. Urgent cares can replicate this laser focus on the user experience by making sure every touchpoint of the patient experience is delightful, purposeful, and simple.
For example, keep the waiting room, exam rooms, and restrooms clean. Create a seamless process that makes it easy for patients to pay their bill. Make sure the user interface of the technology tools patients are using (for booking visits, getting test results, communicating with staff, etc) is purposeful and beautiful. Technology is meant to make our lives easier, not harder. If you’re bringing on a new technology partner in your business, it should make your processes smoother and provide a delightful experience for patients and staff.
What is healthcare UI/UX?
Healthcare UI/UX refers to “user interface/user experience” that consumers are interacting with when they use healthcare technology tools. It involves the interaction between the human and the technology, and ideally the UI/UX of healthcare tools is intuitive for humans to immediately and effortlessly understand how to use the tools. It's important to get UI/UX in healthcare right because so many brands don't, which means it becomes a differentiator to consumers. If you make it easy for patients to navigate their experience, they will enjoy it, and they'll keep coming back.
Great UI benefits healthcare consumers and your business
- Technology with great UI design is easier to use and removes frustration and friction from workflows for both consumers and staff using the tools
- Improves conversion rates
- Decreases amount of time staff spends in training—they can get up-and-running quickly
Anticipate your customers’ needs
While we’re borrowing from the technology space to inform what consumers want from their healthcare experience, 30 years ago Apple was turning to the hospitality industry to understand how to serve consumers better. Apple decided to replicate the Ritz-Carlton experience where consumers got every wish and need fulfilled, even their unexpressed ones. That’s hospitality in a nutshell, right?
With that anchor in their strategy, Apple has been able to anticipate what consumers want from technology—and Apple brings those needs into their products before consumers even realize they wanted it. The demand for new Apple products is off the chart because consumers are so engaged and loyal to the brand that anticipates their needs.
This can definitely apply to your business strategy. Anticipating what consumers want from healthcare is simple—that information already exists! The tricky part is responding and creating tools and workflows that fulfill those anticipated needs.
Marketing is critical
With as much attention to detail as Jobs gave to Apple products, he applied the same level of expertise into their marketing strategy. Remember the billboards with silhouettes dancing with iPods, and the classic white ear buds? Or how Apple improved its camera, and suddenly their marketing was filled with photography with the tagline “Shot with iPhone.” Those were iconic marketing moves that had the same finesse and understanding of what consumers want as the products themselves.
You can have the best urgent care “product”—easy booking, great providers, clear prices, simple processes—but if no one knows about it, it won’t matter. You need to get the word out, and have patients come and experience your clinics.
The bottom line is, marketing is crucial to growing any business. You need tools in place that bring in new patients, as well as processes that keep existing patients engaged and returning to your clinics for care the next time they need it.
Keep an eye on the future
What really makes Apple stand out is their ability to anticipate. They anticipate what consumers want from individual products, but they also anticipate what needs society has that haven't been solved yet. They transform existing products into better, more efficient tools for consumers.
The same thing is a huge opportunity for urgent care brands today—and even larger healthcare organizations. As the digital transformation continues, keeping an eye on the future and anticipating consumers’ needs is what will unlock success for brands.
You already adapted your business and changed based on consumer needs—the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge test of the healthcare industry in our country, and urgent care was on the front lines. Consumers are now more in control of their health than ever, and it’s a trend that’s sure to continue to evolve. How can you continue to evolve your business to match—and even anticipate—consumer needs? Those are the urgent care businesses who will “win.