Health care is transforming— and leading the way is a crowd of health care consumers and the companies that cater to them. Government-led reforms, from incentive programs for adopting health care IT to the ACA-driven insurance marketplaces, may have gotten the ball rolling, but consumers, who now must bear a greater responsibility for the costs of health care, are proving to be an even greater influence on the entire industry. We can, as the saying goes, expect the unexpected.
As Tom Main, partner at the global consulting firm Oliver Wyman and co-author of the report “The Patient-to-Consumer Revolution” tells H&HN, “Empowering the consumer is what’s toppled many markets.” So, what is in store for 2015?
The Revolution Has Begun
In “The Patient-to-Consumer Revolution,” Main writes, “The three fundamental movements of Health Market 2.0 —quantified self, transparent consumer markets, and smart care teams— are under way. They are integrated and create a powerful, virtuous circle of innovation, diffusion, and value.” Let’s take a look at each of these movements— and how they’re shaping health care consumerism.
1. The Quantified Self
The Quantified Self Movement has evolved from technology. Today, it’s possible for consumers to gather data about their environment with smart home monitoring systems and physical activity with biometric wearables. In a CBS News report, Bob Troia, who blogs on Quantifiedbob.com, told CBS, “We’re very normal people. It's not about seeing who can wear the most gadgets and be the most quantified person in the world. A lot of us are sharing techniques and experiences and trying to help each other on their quest for self-enlightenment, or understanding themselves better.” He equates the improved awareness with realizing that you’ve been driving with the parking brakes on. While some people see the movement as a passing fad, research by the Gartner Group projects that the market for wearables and other digital tracking devices will expand to $5 billion by 2016.
2. Transparent Consumer Markets
In a blog last year, we noted that the empowered consumer has led to greater price transparency across all industries. Health care may be lagging behind, but as an industry, it too must acquiesce to the trend. Now that health care consumers are becoming responsible for more of the cost of care, they will want to know the true costs of medical products and services. According to “The Patient-to-Consumer Revolution,” this demand for transparency is changing “the basis of competition from reputation and referrals to price, value and outcomes.” Hospitals and other health care organizations that do not offer transparency may find their brand suffering as health care consumerism takes hold. In addition, this transition to a B-to-C model will reward the innovators and the organizations that are already leading the way with technology or consumer insights. H&HN notes that companies like Walgreens and Google “have already begun to crack into health care with lower-priced, more accessible offerings that are going to pressure traditional providers to make startling changes.”
3. Smart Care Teams
Like Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) or Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), smart care teams consist of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers— even wellness coaches— that work together to coordinate care, using data for predictive, personalized care and technology that enables monitoring on key health indicators. The result is a focus on wellness, intervention and prevention rather than on solely treating patients after they become sick.
A Future Shaped by Health Care Consumerism
As consumers are given more choice in their care and inpatient utilization (ideally) declines in the face of advancing technology and improved population health management, hospitals will need to work on developing relationships with health care consumers. Whether that evolves through incentives or loyalty programs similar to those run by credit card companies or by innovative business models like Netflix and Amazon that transform consumer behavior, health care organizations must understand consumers— not patients— better.
To achieve the necessary insights, hospitals and other providers must take advantage of market research, including psychographic segmentation, to develop more meaningful, high-impact communications with their target audiences.
Read about how innovations such as practical psychographic segmentation can help you succeed in a consumer-driven health care marketplace in our whitepaper or contact c2b solutions for more information on understanding today’s health care consumers.