John M. McKeever Executive Vice President
John McKeever works with clients to develop market insight to deliver exceptional customer experiences, revitalize their brands, or enter new markets. He has worked with...
Embracing consumerism in healthcare has become a key driver to success; the demands and purchasing power of consumers today are higher than ever. In healthcare, traditional values such as clinical quality, expertise, and safety continue to be an expectation – yet consumers are increasingly also demanding factors traditionally more common in retail – such as price transparency, convenience, digital tools, and empowerment.
Consumer expectations are extending from their everyday retail experiences into the complexities of healthcare.
In fact, the era of consumerism is changing every industry. Consider how traditional retail and direct to consumer brands are transforming their business models to better meet the demands of today’s consumers – particularly as disruptors are gaining traction in nearly every industry. Companies such as Netflix, Impossible plant-based burgers, Airbnb, Uber are just a few well-known examples of innovators making a difference in their respective industry.
Healthcare is no different. Consumers are feeling the pain of healthcare costs, access and efficiency – and as a result are already embracing industry disruptors that are solving their problems.
To maintain a competitive advantage, healthcare leaders must be on the front lines of making changes necessitated by current consumerism trends.
Gladly’s 2019 report of over 1,5000 American adults highlights the following industry-agnostic trends that necessitate change:
Applications in healthcare: Patients expect providers to know why they are coming for a visit and what history they have previously provided. Filling out the same paperwork at every visit, or seeing a doctor who doesn’t know why they are there are detractors to the experience. When a problem or question arises, they expect to find someone who can help – and this applies beyond clinical needs to activities such as scheduling, way-finding, and billing.
As illustrated below, healthcare leaders much consider the omnichannel experience to set up the right kind of communications to provide a seamless continuum of care.
2. Care must be personal and individualized.
Applications in healthcare: Patients want to build a connection with a healthcare provider that they believe understands, listens, and tailors treatment to their needs. Through research with thousands of patients across the country, we have found common pain points related to patients feeling that visits are too rushed, providers don’t remember them, and they are not listened to or understood; these are some of the most-mentioned reasons that patients switch providers. Conversely, loyalty and advocacy increase when patients perceive their experience as personal and individualized.
There are best practices for provider verbal and nonverbal listening skills to help patients feel listened to during their visit. However, digital tools are also necessary to make the experience personal across visits. One example is a robust CRM system that connects to the EMR to provide a holistic view of patient needs and preferences (see below for more details on this).
3. If they have a poor experience, they don’t hesitate to leave – and share it with others.
Applications in healthcare: It’s not uncommon for patients to describe seeing several physicians before finding one that is a good fit. This is attributed to both quality of their interactions and ease of access/scheduling an appointment when they need it. Furthermore, for health needs they perceive as routine or not complex, independent clinics are often preferred for providing an easier, more personalized experience.
If patients have a less-than-ideal experience, they don’t hesitate to share it on social media. Thus, social monitoring and engagement is important for today’s hospitals to identify areas for improvement and provide opportunities for service recovery.
Based on these trends, here are some tools and strategies healthcare leaders can use to stay ahead of the consumerism curve.