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The Shape of the New Consumerism in Healthcare Marketing [Survey]

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Woman's hand writing on a paper with charts on itHospital and healthcare marketing professionals have only begun to experience the rise of the new consumer. There’s even more consumerism likely in the future, according to the 2012 Altarum Survey of Consumer Health Care Opinions. This and other findings are influencing the shape of healthcare marketing and advertising.

Of significance for marketing and communications planners, the semiannual survey says:

Societal trends point to more consumerism in the future. These results indicate that younger, more tech-savvy respondents were more likely to investigate health service prices before receiving care. Given the natural aging of our population and the pace of adoption of mobile technology, this suggests that consumers will continue to become more comfortable seeking information and getting involved in decisions. Furthermore, should the trend toward ever-higher deductibles in health insurance continue, it is likely to further prompt interest in price transparency.

“Most consumers have strong preferences for active involvement in health care decisions. Involvement in health care decisions remains a strong preference for all populations except the sickest and most elderly. Consumers want to take the lead role or have an active partnership in the vast majority of cases.

“Of particular interest, the majority of consumers of all ages and health status said that they would support an FDA initiative allowing individuals to self-diagnose [diagnostic tests] and self-prescribe [common prescriptions] for common chronic illnesses [without seeing a doctor first].

“Consumers like and trust their providers and may underestimate the incidence of overtreatment. When asked questions about their physicians (whether or not one likes them, trusts them, and believes that they spend enough time and listen to concerns), the vast majority of respondents rate them positively. However, a similar number also believe that doctors would never recommend an unnecessary test or treatment. This suggests an opportunity to educate the public about the known frequency of unnecessary testing and treatments.

“To some degree, shopping patterns do carry over from other aspects of life to healthcare choices. Individuals who report a tendency to make price comparisons when seeking household goods also are more likely to report a similar shopping style in health care. This suggests that appealing to the typical patterns of price-conscious shoppers could increase such behavior in non- emergent medical choices.”

You’ll want to review the research report in depth. It’s available here from the nonprofit Altarum Institute. Let us know what you think and if this information is likely to change your healthcare marketing plan in the near future.

Lonnie Hirsch

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