Royal is co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of Docent Health. He led the ideation and incubation phases of the business in the Oxeon Venture Studio, working closely with internal teams and friends of Oxeon to test, refine and build the business. His focus on the convergence of the patient experience has been honed over fatherhood of three children and a variety of management, strategy, and operational leadership roles in the provider setting - starting at Deloitte Consulting and most recently from Aetna / Healthagen, where he worked in the Innovation and New Business Development group before joining Oxeon to help build out the Venture Studio.
Year: 1998 Place: The Harvard Business Review Topic: The shifting consumer landscape
Journal contributors B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gillmore are positing a completely new way of thinking about how consumers value goods and services. The duo goes on to proclaim "the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences." This was the core thesis of their editorial "Welcome to the Experience Economy"; that products and pricing were now secondary to the consumer experience. Revisiting that piece, nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves in the very ecosystem they predicted. One where consumers aren't satisfied with decent, they expect delight. And providers don't just work to deliver a service, they strive to choreograph customer journeys and craft branded experiences that differentiate themselves from competitors.
As you undoubtedly know, consumer empowerment has shifted a variety of landscapes, from banking to hospitality, retail to travel. Across each, digitization and the redeployment of labor have reshaped nearly every preconceived notion of what a standard service experience should be. Today when I think back and recall standing in endlessly wrapping queues at the airport to wait for an airline representative to print me my paper boarding pass, I can't help but think "how primitive!"
Unfortunately, healthcare has been startlingly idle when compared to these adjacent industries.
Which is why we created Docent Health.
At Docent Health, we’re working not just to empower provider systems with amazing technology, but to completely redesign the end-to-end patient experience.
With the unprecedented momentum we are seeing today – as provider systems shift from a physician-centric delivery model to a customer-centric delivery model – top clinical outcomes are not enough to create lasting customer satisfaction and loyalty. Modern health systems are competing for patient volume and retention as systems consolidate and new healthcare delivery entrants (retail medicine, telehealth) emerge.
Unpacking this further, market forces such as federal reimbursement changes (HCAHPS) and increased patient consumerism driven by greater cost exposure and access to information (Yelp, Healthgrades, etc.) are empowering end-consumers in the exact same manner we’ve seen in the aforementioned adjacencies.
However, the demands of this tectonic shift go beyond technology. Health systems are being forced to completely rethink customer and product segmentation, non-clinical experiences, and managing against customer lifetime value.
Now, for a moment, translate all of those thoughts into a hypothetical patient experience. Imagine if every member of a health system - from the scheduling rep to the nurse practitioner to the team member preparing your room – knew you on a first name basis. And each of them knew the relevant information that mattered to you, for their job. Like that you prefer office locations near your work, that you want your discharge plans in a digital app, that the sink in your hospital room has been dripping all night. Think of how these seminal healthcare moments would be reshaped.
And moreover, imagine there was someone to guide you, that recognized your personality, your preferences, and your emotions as you went through your healthcare journey, someone who understood what you’ve been through and where you’re going.
In this experience economy, this shouldn’t be theoretical – this is how we at Docent Health believe every patient can and should be treated.
The beauty of this type of platform is that it goes beyond the consumer. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you work in healthcare, you generally arrived here out of a desire to help and assist others. And yet, many of us in the industry struggle to feel that sense of purpose and provide the level of empathetic, high-touch care we desire.
Be it a result of dated processes or legacy systems, it’s grown increasingly difficult for healthcare workers to see patients as people. And this is the other half of the experience coin. We have the opportunity not to just make the patient journey better, but to empower staff to relate to people and give the level of care so many seek. Whether it’s real-time patient sentiment feedback, dynamic task tracking, or the ability to seamlessly interact with peers to enable service recovery, Docent Health seeks to not only reengineer patient experiences, but to rethink how service providers collaborate and engage with the people in their care.
It’s with this unwavering focus that Docent Health was born. What was incubated in the Oxeon Venture Studio in the summer of 2015 has quickly earned seed funding (from healthcare powerhouses Bessemer Venture Partners, NEA, and Maverick Capital), has landed its first cohort of anchor customers, and is growing an exceptional team.
It’s a thrilling time to be in this space. And the beauty of this moment in time is that there’s a playbook already in front of us. Restaurants and hotels, airlines and banks – each has been rethinking customer journeys over the last three decades. The experience economy gave them no choice but to innovate and evolve, and now it’s pushing healthcare to do the same. This is precisely why Docent Health has worked diligently to bring together not just a core team of healthcare veterans, but also pioneers of service excellence from those exact industries.
It’s with this team, and with this shared mission, we aim to not just deliver an unparalleled platform, but to truly reshape the delivery of healthcare services. Perhaps one day not so far down the road, when we’ve accomplished our goals, we’ll all be able to look back at the current state of experience in healthcare and think to ourselves, "how primitive!"