Healthcare consumerism isn’t just “coming.” It’s already here.
What’s more, healthcare consumerism means big changes for healthcare organizations and officially ushers in a new era of the patient experience.
Are you modernizing your business to meet your patients' changing needs and expectations? If not, you’re already falling behind.
In today’s blog post, I share some of the biggest healthcare consumerism shifts you need to understand for marketing your healthcare organization, hospital, or multilocation practice.
Though healthcare consumerism has been on the rise for several years, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced many reluctant businesses over the technology tipping point to meet these changing needs and expectations.
According to a 2020 McKinsey Global survey, nearly 900 C-level executives representing a full range of industries, company sizes, and functional specialties were “three times likelier now than before the pandemic to say that at least 80% of their customer interactions are digital.”
As a result of a societal shift into more frequent digital interactions and ever increasing out-of-pocket medical costs, patients expect a healthcare experience as innovative and digitally advanced as other service sectors.
Patients want providers and other healthcare organizations to deliver value and “patient first” care, emphasizing:
While many companies are late to the game, others are disrupting the marketplace. Highly recognizable brand names such as CVS MinuteClinics, Walmart Care Clinics, Target Clinics, and Walgreens Healthcare Clinics; new companies such as Optum Health, Luna Physical Therapy, Roman, and HIMS; and innovative outpatient services such as urgent care centers, and Telehealth are all giving consumers what they want before they even know they want it.
According to survey data released from Press Ganey, a healthcare experience leader, 66% of 1,000 respondents believed brands like these might pose a significant threat to older hospital and provider institutions.
Why? Disruptors offer comparable health care services, but in an easier, more convenient, transparent, and seamless way.
In a recent survey by National Research Corporation (NRC) Health, 52% of 300,000 American households say that convenience is one of the most important drivers for choosing their healthcare providers. Healthcare consumerism is also shaping the way organizations deliver medicine. With all this in mind, healthcare organizations must prioritize the patient experience to stay competitive.
Now that we’ve established that healthcare consumerism is here and there are many industry disruptors leading the way, how does your organization compare?
Where do you start?
How you market your healthcare organization is a good place to start. By changing the way you market your brand. But that doesn’t mean the way you “advertise” your brand.
To help you prepare for or embrace this major shift, let’s consider the five Ps of marketing through the lens of healthcare consumerism.
The five Ps of marketing are:
Let’s look at how healthcare consumerism is changing the 5 Ps of healthcare marketing:
Whenever I speak live, I always emphasize that “product” is the most important P. So let’s start here.
Healthcare has always been a service industry. However, it was built upon the needs of providers and staff, rather than patients. The ‘product’ has always been the appointment and the treatment, and while they remain vital to your organizations’ success, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Thanks to online access to patient reviews and comprehensive information about specific physicians and hospitals, patients are more informed than ever before. They’re weighing options and making decisions based on the overall healthcare experience they want—and what they want is a streamlined digital experience. 60% of the Press Ganey survey respondents said they prefer booking appointments digitally (online or in-app) than scheduling them over the phone.
Have you thought about all your consumer touchpoints from start to finish (e.g., online or print ads, online reviews and ratings, scheduling, phone calls, emails, billing, etc.)? If not, it’s time to look at your business through the eyes of your patient and make some much-needed changes.
Today’s healthcare consumers want:
More than half (51%) of Press Ganey survey respondents said they used the internet to research and select a new primary care provider, a statistic that has steadily increased for the past three years. If you’re not optimizing your online experience, you are losing patients.
The United States has some of the highest global healthcare rates, period. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 14% of patients struggle to pay high out-of-pocket medical costs. As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients are empowered to find alternative, more affordable healthcare options offering an experience similar to other service sectors.
How can you effectively address these expectations? We understand pricing transparency includes hospitals, providers, health plans and medical manufacturers. Still, it’s essential to find and implement ways to make treatment less expensive. Price transparency tools and low-cost, flexible care options (e.g., fee-for-service or capitated HMOs) can help ease the financial burden on your patients.
Today’s healthcare consumers want:
Providing affordable treatment options, accepting several insurance plans, and offering reduced prices for simple tests and appointments can also help you attract and keep more patients.
A little attention to design goes a long way toward improving workflow and patient satisfaction at your physical location. Once your marketing and advertising pay off and new patients visit your office, you've got to make a great first impression.
Does your waiting room offer an inviting atmosphere? Are you using technology to streamline their check-in process? Do you provide alternative options to increase access to your providers? Today’s healthcare consumers have an unprecedented number of choices and access to tools to make informed decisions. They’ve come to expect high-quality amenities such as:
“People” refers to your doctors and staff. Patients want to feel respected and listened to. Create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere from the moment they enter your office. Have knowledgeable and friendly staff members in the front office and physicians who are personable, great listeners, empathetic to the needs of their patients.
We understand the current employment market exacerbates this issue due to massive shortages at every level. Businesses struggle to find, hire, train, and keep high-caliber employees in many sectors. However, strong relationships facilitate trust between you and your patients, allowing for more open communication and better treatment.
We are covering “promotion” last on purpose. While amateur marketers always start with promotion, marketing pros consider all the other marketing Ps before contemplating their promotional strategy.
Healthcare consumerism has shifted from word-of-mouth and physician referrals, today marketing should include branding, digital marketing, and traditional advertising.
Consumers use an average of three online sources when looking for a provider. Search engines were the most common source (65%), followed by insurance websites (45%) and hospital or health system sites (43%). Of these consumers, 78% used Google, 27% used WebMD, and nearly 20% used Facebook.
Now that you know where you need to promote your services, it’s time for your message to evolve as well. Today, savvy consumers prefer brand-positive messaging that draws them to your brand through long-tail nurturing campaigns that build trust over time.
Today’s advertising and content involves so much more than just good writing:
Let’s say you run a multi-location hospital chain catering to locals and patients who need your specialty care services. How has the consumer journey changed in the last ten years? Let’s take a look at a typical consumer journey through the 5 Ps of marketing:
Healthcare market disruptors are making healthcare simpler, more accessible, and transparent for everyone. As a result, healthcare providers and organizations are rethinking their business models and making sweeping changes across every consumer touchpoint. Here’s what they’re doing:
I have interviewed my friend Dr. Jim Merlino many times, and something he said last year comes to mind as I write this article. (In case you don’t remember, Dr. Merlino is Chief Transformation Office for the Cleveland Clinic, an accomplished surgeon and national leader in improving the patient experience.)
He said, “Over the last ten years, the healthcare industry has advanced from an idea that the patient experience is about happiness and satisfaction to an understanding that it’s much more transformative than that.”
It’s time to implement a patient experience that’s digitally connected, patient-centric, and focused on wellness. As healthcare costs continue to rise, more and more consumers are empowered to search for and expect greater value and quality of service, timely and convenient care, transparent information, and an excellent patient experience.
Organizations must embrace these changes and meet their patient’s expectations or risk losing them to the competition.