Consumers More Open to Non-Traditional Healthcare Options Than Ever

March 29, 2017: Brian Bierbaum, Senior Vice President of Client Solutions

I was gladly able to speak on a panel at the Hospital Marketing and Consumer Engagement Summit in Nashville a few days ago. Below are some areas we focused on during the session and in other conversations I had with attendees at the conference.

Envision patients more as consumers of goods and create solutions from a demand, as opposed to supply, perspective. 

According to a recent PwC study, healthcare consumers are now willing to trust non-traditional healthcare companies (i.e. large retail and digitally enabled companies) with their healthcare as much as providers. This category would include the Amazons, Googles, Wal-Marts and Targets of the world that are increasingly expanding their horizons as “traditional” retailers.
 
What’s driving the consumer demand for non-traditional healthcare? It’s a consumer belief that these companies can provide quality care and core benefits at a lower cost (and sometimes even a better overall experience). The research paints a clear picture of a population displeased with its overall healthcare experience. Because of that, the healthcare market is transforming and the consumer is in the driver’s seat.
 
Ultimately, the winners will be healthcare organizations that can distinguish themselves by consumer choice, consumer engagement and consumer experience.
 
Engage the appropriate stakeholders and partners in order to create a relationship and a brand promise that consumers value.
 
In addition to clinical members and patients themselves, representatives from marketing, patient engagement, technology and legal all need to have a seat at the table for any patient experience initiative to move forward. Be sure to pressure test your hypotheses, assumptions and even the ever-growing body of third party research.
 
One recent example: a healthcare client has traditionally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and one-sided focus groups. Before taking that research and baking it into their patient engagement strategy, we took the most sensitive touchpoints between the provider and consumer and tested the theories in a room with patients and healthcare professionals. In the end, the in-person insights didn’t align with the research that was originally gathered and a pivoted approach was necessary.
 
Morale of the story? Try to understand patients as individuals—incorporating a focus on non-clinical indicators in addition to clinical factors—to build a consumer strategy.
 
Discuss the opportunities and challenges in linking protected patient data and insights with transactional data.
 
The challenge is that there is not a one-sized fit all model for all providers. Every legal and compliance team is willing to take different levels of risk. A few principles that will help keep your initiatives moving forward are:
 
  • Use deidentified data whenever possible
  • Develop programs that opt patients in to providing the bare minimum access to PHI versus trying to pull it from an existing system
  • Leverage existing systems and already approved protocols for PHI sensitive interaction
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