From virtual physiotherapy to remote counselling sessions, private healthcare went digital during COVID-19. We spoke to Dave Exall, the CIO and Transformation Director at Simplyhealth, about why empowering customers to take control of their health has never been so important.
We’ve been providing healthcare solutions to UK customers since 1872 – which even predates the NHS. We’re a purpose-based organisation and our goal is to make healthcare more accessible and improve customer wellbeing through our products. We believe in having a positive impact on society and we try to take pressure off the NHS by providing 24/7 access to virtual GPs, as well as donating 10% of pre-tax profits to health-related charities to help foster a healthier UK.
Technology is the great enabler. We have a mix of older customers, who have been with us since they were children, customers who have been brought up with technology, and corporate customers who offer private health services as a perk for their staff. While we still have traditional channels to speak to customers on the phone and send them paper forms to fill in if they prefer, the rising demand for digital solutions means we can offer customers more value than ever before and play a bigger role in helping to prevent illness.
In the last year we have gone live with three new apps. The first is SimplyConsult, which is a resource for customers to access practitioners virtually – so, virtual GP, counselling, or physiotherapy appointments, for example. SimplyPlan is an app for managing an insurance claim, similar to our customer portal and, like SimplyConsult, will empower customers to self-serve. Finally, SimplyMe is a free app that anyone can download to improve their wellbeing. It proactively guides the user with personalised advice based on their profile, for example, advising them on how to check their heart rate and whether they’re doing enough exercise. All of our apps are connected to Salesforce so we can centralise that data and get 360-degree visibility of the customer.
The lockdowns have been challenging. A lot of people felt they wouldn’t be able to get an appointment with a practitioner so they cancelled their policies – which is really worrying at a time when people should be focusing on their health. Naturally, people didn’t want to go out, so it was important that we could bring digital services to them. We got our service agents working from home with Service Cloud to continue supporting customers across different channels, and we can continue to offer healthcare services via our app.
For dentists, we had to come up with another plan when surgeries were shut, so we offered customers three-month payment holidays for their plans to try and reduce churn. In a time of crisis, it’s really important to be able to offer customers long-term value, and with our apps and customer-centric services, I’m confident that we’ll be able to reach more customers and win some back.
We’ve definitely seen more corporations placing a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing. Some industries like retail and distribution have been really busy, and we’ve onboarded more clients from those sectors. There’s also been a surge in the number of people using our mental health services, and it’s great to be able to provide that support to people who are struggling. The pandemic has been a stark reminder of how important it is to take care of our health and wellbeing, and to actively prioritise it through our life choices. Hopefully, we can continue to grow and empower more customers to adopt a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.
To find out more about the One Simplyhealth initiative to transform the customer experience, read the full story here.