February 24, 2017
For many years, Influence Health team members have been attending HIMSS, the annual conference put on by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. This year we’ve noticed a buzz around the topic of healthcare consumerism and healthcare consumer experience, out on the show floor and in our meetings and talks with healthcare providers, executives, and more – a topic very close to our hearts, by the way. What’s interesting is that this year we’re finally not the only ones paying attention to this important topic.
With multiple sessions surrounding healthcare consumer experience this year, the topic has been thriving on the show floor during breaks. Influence Health has attended many of these sessions, and we noticed three key takeaways on consumerism we think you should be paying attention to.
Three Takeaways on Consumer Experience
#1: Other Consumer Trends Impact Patient Consumer Expectations.
- We’ve been saying this for a long time, and our experience at HIMSS this year makes it clear this trend isn’t going anywhere.
- In Jan Oldenburg’s session entitled The “P” Is For Participation, Partnering and emPowerment she highlighted that 9 in 10 US adults want to share in health decision making. However, they are basing their consumer habits and expectations off of their experience with other industries like banking, shopping, entertainment, travel, and news.
- In fact, patient consumers are incredibly impatient to wait for standard consumer features to extend into healthcare. Can we blame them? Healthcare is failing compared to every other industry.
- The session utilized multiple audio recordings from real patients sharing their experiences and expressing their frustrations. One wasted no time in saying “If a healthcare provider isn’t willing to collaborate with me, I’m going to find a new provider.”
- Patients are starting to question why companies like Zappos are ahead of the curve and are beating healthcare.
- It’s time for healthcare to accept the fact that when you’re paid based on your outcomes, you can’t do everything yourself. You need help outside of your 4 walls.
- In fact, according to Jan, if healthcare systems and facilities are not investing in technology to help them engage consumer behaviors outside their 4 walls, they will NOT succeed in value based care.
#2: One Size Does NOT Fit All When It Comes to Consumer Marketing
- In a session entitled The Power of The Consumer-Based Healthcare Approach, the Chief Product Officer and CMO of Philips showcased that while becoming a consumer-facing healthcare organization offers many benefits − including fostering greater patient partnerships to drive care quality and outcome improvements − there are key challenges to overcome on the road to improvement.
- Remember one size does NOT fit all when it comes to marketing to consumers.
- In fact, to be successful, healthcare systems must target specific populations differently, and there are a variety of populations. You can define populations around community factors (suburban vs. urban, high-income vs. low-income), generational factors (boomers vs. millennials vs. gen x’ers), medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), and more.
- If systems don’t look at all populations individually and market to their specific needs, these patients wind up becoming disengaged.
- It’s time to level the playing field and look at the challenges of each population on an individual level in order make the complete transition from simply an informed patient to a partnered patient.
#3: Healthcare is Still in the Beginning Stages of Consumer Experience, which Means You Have Big Opportunities for Growth
- One main factor is driving the consumerism approach in healthcare is the acquisition of physician practices by healthcare providers.
- Healthcare systems used to compete on the basis of physician referrals, and they spent a lot of time marketing to doctors.
- As systems have acquired more and more practices, the competition has changed. Because the systems are bigger and more connected, their brands have taken precedence over individual physician brands. Which brand consumers base their choices on has followed suit.
- At the same time competitively, health systems are stepping on each other a lot more and they’re running into more competitors than they use to see (urgent cares, pharmacy clinics, new third-party providers)
- Therefore, in general, consumers are less loyal to individual doctors and more interested in typical consumer needs. And they’re also becoming increasingly savvy in measuring quality in ways they weren’t before.
- Before, consumers would mainly make decisions on whether or not to see a provider based on referrals from other providers. But now, with the widespread options of provider reviews available online, people are more likely to make decisions based on opinions of friends, family, other patients, and reputation.
- And while more and more providers are beginning to understand this, they still remain under resourced and can’t tackle proper consumerism strategies and tactics, like managing their online reputation and responding to negative reviews, without help.
In this new realm of healthcare consumer experience, organizations can’t afford to ignore marketing tactics as part of a whole system strategy. When patients expect better options, communication, and interactions, using tools and solutions to reach them with appropriate messaging, any time, wherever they are is the best way to positively affect their health and your health system’s bottom line. Influence Health has been preaching the consumer experience gospel for the past decade, so we’ve already developed technologies and solutions to help your health system:
1) Ease patient frustration with the healthcare industry
2) Eliminate the “one size fits all” approach when it comes to reaching their targeted consumers
3) Leap to the forefront and head of the game in consumer engagement despite it being new territory for the industry
If you’re ready to evaluate your organization’s efforts and step up your consumer experience game, Request a Free Healthcare Marketing Assessment.