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What is consumerism in healthcare?

Even if you haven’t seen the statistics, you’ve likely felt a shifting of the sands. A change is underway that’s reshaping the landscape of the industry: rapid rise of consumerism in healthcare. But what will be the impact of consumerism on the healthcare industry?

According to The IHC, Healthcare consumerism is defined as, “transforming an employer’s health benefit plan into one that puts economic purchasing power—and decision-making—in the hands of participants. It’s about supplying the information and decision support tools they need, along with financial incentives, rewards, and other benefits that encourage personal involvement in altering health and healthcare purchasing behaviors.”

No longer content to let others make their decisions, and emboldened by the freedom of choice they enjoy in an ever more consumer-centric economy, consumers have emerged as the fastest growing payer in the industry.

They are many. And they are powerful.

But they are also confused and frustrated, creating one of the major issues in healthcare today.

And that’s a situation we can’t afford to ignore. (Primarily because we’re the ones who created it.)

A Troubling Combination
Although 7 in 10 consumers feel they are responsible for managing their own health, they also admit that they don’t have the tools to do so. Unlike other industries where side-by-side comparisons of features, benefits, and costs are commonplace, the healthcare industry is a maze of choices, contact points, service flows and ambiguity – all with no upfront pricing.

The process is so bewildering to the average consumer that fully 3 out of 10 of them are deferring necessary treatment in order to avoid the confusion and expense.

That’s bad. And it gets worse.

The Impact of Consumerism on Health Care

4 out of 5 consumers admit to finding it difficult to compare cost and quality during the decision process. And fully 3 out of 4 feel their healthcare decisions are the most important—and expensive—decisions they’ll ever make.

Now, if that’s not a recipe for frustration, then one hasn’t been written yet.

And it explains why they’re looking elsewhere for both information and services.

Which brings us to the core of the issue, and one we all understand only too well: when patient experience falls short, ROI will invariably follow suit. The difference here is that for the new healthcare consumer, the “patient experience” is happening before they even set one foot inside a physician’s office or hospital.

Gone are the days of a one-way monologue sufficing for patients. As consumers, they’re increasingly apt to think of themselves as the sun around which brands must orbit, instead of the other way around. Add to that the fact that technology and social media have conditioned them to expect more—and more tailored—information, and you have a situation for which traditional healthcare approaches are ill equipped.

The Good News?
The seeds are there to turn this situation to your advantage. Because over half of consumers wish to receive all healthcare from a single brand, and 9 in 10 want a guiding force to help them in their decisions.

The key is loyalty. And National Research can help create it.

It’s important to know that the right combination of all of these features can be a big driver for consumer loyalty. If you’re not sure what the right balance for your organization is—or how to get there—check out our webinar on the topic. We talk about how to capitalize on your unique value and keep consumers loyal to your organization.

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