Three years ago, healthcare was undergoing a transformation, led by healthcare consumers and the companies that cater to them. Government-led reforms, from incentive programs for adopting healthcare IT to the Affordable Care Act-driven insurance marketplaces, got the ball rolling, but consumers, faced with greater responsibility for the costs of healthcare, have exerted considerable influence on the entire industry.
Given ongoing uncertainties about the fate of the ACA, we still can, as the saying goes, expect the unexpected. But one fact is clear: Healthcare consumerism will continue to inspire innovation—and disruption—in the healthcare landscape.
Back in 2015, Tom Main, partner at the global consulting firm Oliver Wyman and co-author of the report “The Patient-to-Consumer Revolution” said that, “Empowering the consumer is what’s toppled many markets.” Let’s look back at what Main called “the three fundamental movements of Health Market 2.0” and see how they are evolving—and reshaping—healthcare in America.
The Quantified Self Comes Into Its Own
In 2015, Bob Troia, who blogs on Quantifiedbob.com, talked about the potential of patient-generated data with CBS, saying, “We’re very normal people. It's not about seeing who can wear the most gadgets and be the most quantified person in the world. A lot of us are sharing techniques and experiences and trying to help each other on their quest for self-enlightenment, or understanding themselves better.”
Yet despite the buzz, by December 2016, it looked as if biometric wearables— like the mood rings of the 70’s—were losing their appeal. As HIT Consultant points out: “Fitbit’s stock price was rapidly dropping. Apple Watch sales had declined for two consecutive quarters and Pebble had just been acquired in a fire sale.”
One year later, the Quantified Self is alive and well, thanks to ongoing innovations in sensor accuracy for wearable devices and improved data collection and analytics uncover insights from the information. Patient-generated data has been particularly valuable for healthcare providers of patients with certain health conditions, including:
- Bipolar Disorder
HIT Consultant notes, “Patient-generated data is already playing an increasingly important role in clinical trials and remote patient monitoring and these trends will only accelerate.”
Cost Transparency Gains Ground
In 2015, Main said that the result of healthcare consumers having more skin in the game would change “the basis of competition from reputation and referrals to price, value and outcomes.”
Moreover, the rise of retail players in the healthcare field was putting pressure on hospitals and other healthcare organizations to offer greater price transparency. Cost transparency remains elusive, in part due to the complexities of healthcare and health insurance, but consumers are becoming better educated and more vocal advocates for themselves.
In addition, a new law that went into effect in Colorado this month could be the first sign of what’s to come: Hospitals are now required to post self-pay prices for patients on their websites for the 50 most common diagnosis-related group codes and the 25 most common procedural technology billing codes. In the absence of a website, a one-page document must be available to patients. Physician offices are also required to comply by posting the prices for their 15 most common procedures.
Coordinated Care Expands to Coordinated Engagement
In “The Patient to Consumer Revolution,” Main wrote that collaborative, smart care teams consisting of physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers— even wellness coaches— would work together to coordinate care, using data for predictive, personalized care and technology that enables monitoring on key health indicators.
This shift to wellness, intervention and prevention, rather than on solely treating patients after they become sick, is being facilitated with the use of psychographic segmentation and patient engagement technology. Better insights into the unique perspectives and beliefs of individual healthcare consumers enables healthcare providers to enhance patient communications with more relevant messaging. When such insights are combined with automated platforms that facilitate messaging and patients’ preferred channels, it can drive engagement and more proactive health behaviors.
A Future Shaped by Healthcare Consumerism
What has not changed in three years is that fact that, as consumers are given more choice in their care and inpatient utilization declines in the face of advancing technology and improved population health management, hospitals will need to think more like the best-loved consumer brands to develop lasting relationships with healthcare consumers.
Whether that evolves through incentives or loyalty programs similar to those run by credit card companies or by innovative business models like Netflix and Amazon that transform consumer behavior, healthcare organizations must understand consumers— not patients— better. Market research, including psychographic segmentation, is crucial to developing more meaningful, high-impact communications with their target audiences.
Read about how innovations such as psychographic segmentation and the PatientBond digital patient engagement platform can help you succeed in a consumer-driven healthcare marketplace in our whitepaper on psychographic segmentation or contact c2b solutions for more information on understanding today’s healthcare consumers.