Insights on Today's Healthcare Consumer

Take the First Steps toward Healthcare Consumer Satisfaction

Posted by Brent Walker on Tue, Apr 14, 2015

doctor-holding-tablet-with-patientNearly a decade ago, CMS implemented the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) Survey to assess patient satisfaction with hospital care. Since then, hospitals have been trying to crack the code of what makes—or breaks—the patient experience, an effort that has been made even more challenging with the rise of healthcare consumerism. Based on a new Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) study, healthcare providers are definitely missing the mark.

No More Wizard behind the Curtain Say Healthcare Consumers

In a report on the Strategy& study, H&HN asked healthcare experts why they believe patients express so much dissatisfaction with their healthcare. John Santa, M.D., the medical director for Consumer Reports Health, thinks some of the frustration comes from consumers not having context for evaluating their healthcare experience. Why? Because the healthcare industry has kept consumers in the dark, dispensing its wisdom without providing the information consumers need.

Santa said, “When we survey consumers, they really don’t know the benefits and risks of the healthcare they’re getting. They don’t know about how health care organizations are performing [in comparison with one another], and they don’t know what anything costs.” Since patients are acting more like consumers, they expect the same price transparency and outstanding customer service they receive from fan favorite, Amazon—and hospitals are falling short.

In its “Birth of the Healthcare Consumer” study conducted in 2014, Strategy& asked 2,300 patients about their level of satisfaction with healthcare. The results were revealing:

  • 66 percent of patients expressed satisfaction with the core benefits of their healthcare.
  • 63 percent were happy with the cost and quality of their care, as were 62 percent with regard to administrative services.
  • Only 57 percent said they were happy with their access to programs to manage health.
  • Most tellingly, less than half—only 49 percent—felt their overall consumer experience was satisfactory.

Not one of the five areas considered received a passing score. In two areas, hospitals are clearly failing for today’s healthcare consumers. How can healthcare providers overcome this deficit?

Changing Your Approach to Satisfy Healthcare Consumerism

Hospitals must transform because the demands of patients will continue to evolve as they take on more responsibility for the costs of their own care. In an article exploring the shift to healthcare consumerism, H&HN noted how Memorial Hermann health system in southeast Texas has been implementing changes to address the shortcomings.

It began in 2007 when the health system noticed that their own employees, including top executives, were taking advantage of less traditional care providers. The health system’s leadership realized it needed to adapt to provide the fast, convenient access to care that consumers want. It began partnering with RediClinics, found in many grocery stores, to offer basic health services. David James, M.D., CEO of Memorial Hermann Medical Group, told H&HN that, “the new front door is through consumer-driven health and nontraditional relationships.”

With 12 hospitals in the Houston area, Memorial Hermann is growing while other healthcare providers struggle with declining inpatient numbers. How?  David James attributes it to their adoption of “non-traditional relationships with consumers,” including virtual medical homes.

James said, “The new medical home is not just a patient-centered medical home, it’s a consumer-driven medical home. Instead of our placing the patient in the center of what we have, when we have it, the patient is telling us, ‘No, I’m going to put myself in the center of what I want, when I want it and where I want it.’ ” 

Of course, determining what healthcare consumers want takes insight that many hospitals struggle to achieve. Amazon has become so popular with consumers by adapting to the desires of individual consumers. It offers customized shopping experiences by serving up products a consumer may be interested in based on previous shopping history. Consumers have options for customer service to suit their preferred method of communication.

This is one of the reasons why c2b solutions fielded the 2015 c2b Consumer Diagnostic.  This national study of healthcare consumers examines their attitudes, motivations and behaviors across channels of healthcare delivery to unlock the drivers behind patient activation and satisfaction.

Hospitals need to understand the unique lifestyles, behaviors and motivations of healthcare consumers, particularly if they want to improve satisfaction scores on the two of the biggest opportunities—access to programs to manage health and overall healthcare experience. By using psychographic segmentation, hospitals can better understand consumer needs and adapt their approaches to connecting with consumers. 

One-size-fits-all solutions won’t work, but if a hospital understands the deeper make-up of its consumers, it could offer services that are much more likely to appeal to individual patients.  Using two c2b Psychographic Segments and an example, a hospital or health insurance company could provide an educational CD/mp3 for time-pressed Priority Jugglers to listen to in the car and online tools for Self Achievers who are most likely searching the Internet for health information. How do you need to adapt?

Read our white paper on patient engagement or contact c2b solutions to learn how c2b solutions’ healthcare consumer market research and psychographic segmentation can help your organization successfully adapt to healthcare consumerism.

Patient Activation and Engagement Whitepaper

Brent Walker

Written by: Brent Walker

As Chief Marketing Officer, Brent's primary responsibilities include leading marketing strategy and execution for c2b solutions, development of c2b solutions' proprietary consumer segmentation model and insights products, research on healthcare consumers’ motivations and behaviors, and providing marketing guidance to c2b solutions clients.

Tags: Healthcare Consumerism

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