In 2018, loyalty and engagement continued to shape the contours of healthcare in several ways. Here’s what we learned from last year that will likely carry over into this year:
Pricing is Increasingly Tied to Loyalty
Healthcare costs are coming more from patients directly and this, according to NRCHealth, is making patients more selective and less loyal. Says NRC:
“The patient’s share of financial responsibility for healthcare bills rose an eye-popping 11 percent last year. As more healthcare spending comes directly from their pockets, patients are more selective about where they spend it. They’ll take their business elsewhere if a provider falls short of expectations — or if they can save as little savings as $500 on their costs.”
As a result, transparent and a la carte pricing are trends are becoming more common in the healthcare landscape and need to be harnessed as a loyalty tool for continued growth in 2019.
Let’s use the bank as an example. Most consumers use their bank frequently — even if primarily online — checking balances, ordering checks, transferring funds or paying their bills. You likely won’t switch banks on a whim since your institution is so intertwined with your daily life. Healthcare, as NCR points out, is very episodic: “Between episodes of care, patients may not think to interact with their healthcare providers. It’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’” This very cyclical usage creates low engagement for the healthcare ecosystem vs. the bank, and that translates into low loyalty.
In 2018, the importance of patient engagement continued to grow. Patient engagement platforms like PatientBond help bridge the gaps between health episodes with reminders, wellness tips and benchmarks, making the interaction with providers more cohesive. PatientBond uses patented psychographic segmentation techniques developed by former P&G executives to interact with patients according to the communication style that fits their preferences and lifestyles to bring a more consumer-centric culture to healthcare.
In 2018, it became apparent that when trying to cement patient loyalty, experience matters. Healthcare providers who spend large sums of money into fancy advertising campaigns may be missing the mark. Patients are more concerned about what the provider has done for them. PatientEngagementhit.com reports that over 70 percent of survey respondents said that their most recent healthcare visits influence their loyalty to an organization.
That’s why every experience matters in healthcare ecosystems when it comes to building loyalty. One lousy visit and there’s a good chance the patient won’t return. Using the bank as an example again, if a patient gets hit with what they deem an unfair NSF fee one time, chances are they’ll still stay. The customer is simply too engaged and invested in the bank to walk away after one or two bad encounters. Healthcare generally doesn't foster that kind of engagement and loyalty, so good experiences are crucial.
Wearables as an Engagement Tool
While wearable health technology is still in its relative infancy, 2018 saw an explosion of such devices. We aren’t talking Fitbits here, but wearable devices prescribed by a doctor. By 2023 these devices are expected to be a 60 billion dollar market according to Becker's.
A 2018 PatientBond market research study found that 64 percent of the general population would be willing to share wearable data with their doctor. One psychographic segment, Self Achievers, were statistically more likely than the others to be in favor of it at 73 percent. This is important considering Self Achievers represent nearly 20 percent of the population.
From heart monitors to diabetes management and drug delivery, wearable technology has the potential to change patient compliance dramatically. As our healthcare system evolves from illness treatment to wellness promotion, wearable devices that cater to the physical fitness of our populations may also prove to have a role in clinical healthcare.
We anticipate an increase of integrations between wearables and patient engagement platforms that create a closed loop between the patient, their provider and their wearable tech.
Education Fosters Engagement
A major survey by McKinsey in 2018 revealed that many consumers want to make better healthcare choices, but they lack the understanding of the healthcare system and its cost that would help them make better healthcare decisions. Consumers want to be empowered to be their own advocates, but they don’t feel that they can do that in today’s healthcare landscape. McKinsey reports:
“To help consumers reach this goal, the healthcare industry will need to engage with them in more and better ways. The collaboration will be crucial. The survey identified three ways through which health insurers and providers could potentially make consumers a part of the solution to lowering healthcare costs."
Topping McKinsey's recommendation is consumer education - finding ways to reach patients and educate them about intricacies and costs of the healthcare system. McKinsey found that consumer perceptions about medicine often don't match reality, and providers have to do a better job of closing that gap.
So what will 2019 bring? Each year delivers new and exciting changes in healthcare, but 2018 laid the groundwork for an interesting year ahead. Take charge of patient loyalty in 2019 by downloading PatientBond’s patient loyalty case study.