Archive for February, 2013

IKEA self-service flop: a lesson for healthcare (part 2)

Written by Jay Lawrence on February 18th, 2013. Posted in Healthcare strategy, Healthcare Technology, Hospital kiosk, Hospital management, Patient registrations, Patient satisfaction, Patient Self-Service

Heavy boxes IKEA self service flop: a lesson for healthcare (part 2)

“Heavy lifting required? Maybe self-service checkout isn’t a good option”

In a recent blog, I shared how healthcare folks can learn from IKEA’s failed efforts with self-service technology.

Granted, IKEA’s applications for this technology differ greatly from that of healthcare facilities. At IKEA, customers used it to make purchases; while hospitals and medical clinics typically use it for things like patient pre-registration, registration or check-in, wayfinding, and completing surveys.

Still, IKEA offers us much food for thought (and I’m not just talking about its delicious Swedish meatballs).

Here are two more takeaways:

Lesson #3: Self-service may work better in some environments than others

It’s one thing to use a grocery store check-out to buy a box of cereal and a carton of milk.

But at IKEA, customers often have big, bulky furniture that requires a wide, awkward cart to maneuver. Flipping boxes over to find the barcode can require some major muscle. And even then, it can be tough to scan the barcode with a pricing gun.

Put simply, self-service technology doesn’t make sense for all service providers—sometimes, not even those working in the same industry.

Where healthcare is concerned, a simple Google search will show you there have been many success stories—in hospitals as well as medical clinics, large as well as small, and across a number of countries. The challenge is in figuring how best to use it to meet patients’ needs, as well as your own.

Lesson #4: Self-service should demonstrate its value to users

“When self-checkout is done well, customers love it….However, when it is clunky and confusing, the customer is left to think, ‘I have to work this hard to give you my money?’”—Sheridan Orr, Interrobang Agency

When first introducing self-service technology, many organizations tout it as a value-add to users. Whether that’s true or not, however, is ultimately left to the discretion of the users.

Given the many frustrations IKEA’s self-service check-out lanes created for users, the retailer gave consumers the impression that the customer experience was not as important as saving money and reducing headcount.

There has to be some realized benefit—tangible or intangible—to the person using the self-serve technology.

In an industry like healthcare that is known for delays and backlogs, being able to save patients’ time is one visible and measurable way to demonstrate value.

The user experience

Ultimately, it’s the users who will decide whether or not the technology is a success. All you need to do is look at IKEA’s experience as proof.

Yet, despite the failure of self-service at IKEA, the retailer did something right by yanking its kiosks from its US stores: it showed that it had listened to its customers. This says a lot about the company.

In healthcare, the patient experience is critical to what we do. While any technology may have its hiccups, it’s our responsibility to ensure it helps—not hinder—the people we service.

IKEA self-service flop: a lesson for healthcare (part 1)

Written by Jay Lawrence on February 4th, 2013. Posted in Healthcare Technology, Hospital kiosk, Hospital management, Patient satisfaction, Patient Self-Service, Uncategorized

Ikea IKEA self service flop: a lesson for healthcare (part 1)By Jay Laurence, CEO, PatientWay

For perhaps the first time ever, you’re going to get something from IKEA that doesn’t require assembly or an Allen key: a lesson.

In August 2012, IKEA announced plans to remove all self-service checkout systems from its US stores.

The reason? According to an IKEA spokesman, “It wasn’t as efficient as we had originally hoped.”

Despite IKEA being a retailer, its failed experience still teaches us a few things about using self-service technology in healthcare.

Lesson #1: Self-service should not be mandatory

IKEA cashier lanes were opened only on the busiest shopping days—so customers often had no choice but to use the self-service checkout lanes to make their purchases.

News flash to IKEA (or not): not everybody is comfortable with technology—including seniors, people with vision disabilities and/or low literacy levels, and those who speak minority languages.

In a high-stress environment like a hospital or medical clinic, providing an option for service—for example, having a staff member available to assist patients face-to-face if they prefer not to use a kiosk to check-in or register—can help ease anxiety and add to (rather than worsen) the patient experience.

Lesson #2: Self-service should offer instructions

IKEA customers often found kiosk directions unclear—and no demos were provided on operating the scanners (despite the kiosks being designed to offer tutorials).

If you expect your users to readily take control of their own transactions, you have to anticipate that they will have questions—obviously, when the technology is acting finicky, but also in the best of times.

If the technology allows it—and it should, if you are making such an investment—ensure your kiosk includes patient instructions and/or a “Help” feature or call button for face-to-face assistance. (And make sure the person doing the assisting is not only friendly, but well-read on troubleshooting!)

Perhaps Francie Mendelsohn of Summit Research Associates Inc. summed it up best when she said: “The secret to self-service — any kind of self-service, including candy vending machines — is don’t make me think.”

Checkout time

Stay tuned for my next blog article, when I offer two more lessons learned (courtesy of IKEA)—including how they apply to the use of self-service technology in healthcare

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