Healthcare consumerism is here to stay. Healthcare reform kindled the fire as market conditions shifted costs to the consumer. Omnipresent smartphones, wearable fitness devices, advanced healthcare analytics engines and the steady influx of new technologies further fanned the flames.
With consumer expectations changing, hospitals and health systems must adapt to a more consumer-centric approach—like perennial consumer favorite Amazon—or risk losing out to more innovative competitors in the market. Staying on top of the hottest healthcare consumerism trends can help you reach and engage your consumers wherever they are.
Healthcare consumerism trends have a broad impact on hospitals
Once you start looking at the patient experience as a sum of all its parts rather than a disconnected collection of clinical encounters, it becomes clear that healthcare consumerism trends touch many departments: Admissions, Clinical, Customer Care, Facilities Management, Finance, Health Information Technology, Marketing and Public Relations.
Here are six commonly cited healthcare consumerism trends hospitals need to consider.
Trend 1: Value-Based Care
As you might expect, a trend identified in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) report entitled, “Health Care 2020,” will have a significant impact on hospital’s bottom line: the consumer expectation for transparency and choice. The shift from volume- to value-based reimbursement may have been driven by payor programs, but cost-conscious consumers are also shopping around, seeking price and quality comparisons before making healthcare decisions.
We’ve seen this trend gaining strength in recent years with a rise of independent sites offering price lists, consumer reviews and industry benchmarking scores. Some hospitals have embraced value-based care models, delivering more price transparency and attracting patients, but many have a long way to go.
Trend 2: Mobile Dominance
Mobile isn’t just a “channel” these days; it’s a way of life. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just a critical tool for Millennials. Smartphone adoption has grown among seniors, with four out of five Americans now owning and using smartphones.
When combined with an unending stream of new mobile and digital technologies, continued growth of mobile device dependence is virtually ensured. Healthcare consumers turn to their smartphones to research health concerns, find and compare healthcare providers nearby, and make appointments or pay bills.
Hospitals that embrace mobile have many paths for communication and engagement with healthcare consumers—web, email, text, social media and apps. GPS-enabled phones allow for more targeted, location-based marketing which can be leveraged to attract new patients and push out community health programs.
Trend 3: Consumer Insights
This trend appears in the list from HFMA, but healthcare finance professionals aren’t the only ones focused on using consumer and healthcare data to inform their strategies. HFMA notes, “As healthcare organizations refocus delivery efforts to meet consumer expectations, healthcare leaders need to understand and target the unique preferences of their particular demographic populations.”
It is important to note the difference between data and insights, however. You can sift through an ocean of data and not be able to interpret that data through the lens of the patient/consumer. An insight is the combination of objective, data-based fact with an underlying consumer motivation.
Noting that personalization and individualization are also an important trend for healthcare marketers, one blog notes that, “The public/audience has also become resistant to old-style, broad brush advertising methods. Contemporary marketing methods identify user interests and deliver timely, personalized and relevant content on a one-to-one basis.” But how can you tap into healthcare consumers’ psyches to deliver the right message to the right people via the right channel?
Psychographic segmentation offers valuable consumer insights by classifying healthcare consumers based on the attitudes and motivations they bring to health and wellness:
- Who they trust for healthcare advice
- Where they look for health-related information
- What motivates them to change to healthier behaviors
- How they prefer to engage with healthcare providers
Armed with the insights from psychographic segmentation and other healthcare analytics, hospitals can design more effective marketing campaigns, implement stronger population health initiatives, push out wellness education and chronic disease management tips and tools to the right sources, and deliver customer-centric experiences from admission through discharge and beyond.