Healthcare companies have been talking a lot about consumerism recently, but a new report from brand and marketing consultancy Prophet found that providers, payers and pharma companies have not shifted to a consumer-centric model.
Organizations can improve consumerism through digital partnerships, getting external insights and finding out what matters to patients, according to the report.
Prophet said empowering and engaging consumers is critical. Patients expect more from providers to tackle healthcare costs and want a more active role in personal health management.
Many patients are eager for better engagement with their doctors and insurers. A recent Aetna survey found patients put high value on communicative doctors and convenient appointments. Millennials in particular shop around online for healthcare services and will switch providers if they think they can find a better experience.
Consumerism is a buzzword that healthcare groups have trumpeted for more than a decade — and attention has been ramping up. Healthcare experts have talked about the need to coordinate care, empower patients with data, improve care access and create better healthcare consumers. This study, however, showed the industry has a long way to go.
A recent Kaufman Hall survey of 200 hospital and healthcare executives also found that movement into consumer-focused initiatives has been slow. Though 90% of respondents in that survey said improving customer experience is a top priority, only 8% are aggressively pursuing consumer-centric strategies. About two-thirds of respondents haven’t begun or are in the earliest stages of transitioning to a more consumer-centric focus.
Prophet conducted 240 interviews and surveyed healthcare companies like Mayo Clinic, Aetna and Novartis for its report.
Prophet found that providers have improved the process of translating data into insights. “Where they struggle most is moving from tactical fixes within the confines of a doctor’s office to a healthcare journey spanning periods of wellness and illness,” Prophet said.
Payers are doing best using data. That includes information from wearable technology, claims and clinical forms. “However, this segment of the industry struggles with the challenge of fundamentally changing the relationship with consumers from transaction manager to personalized health partner,” Prophet said.
The report found that healthcare organizations are hesitant to partner with digital health companies. Fewer than 10% of healthcare organizations said they are “most willing” to partner with digital companies. More than half of respondents said innovation is actually coming from providers and medical device companies — not digital companies.
Prophet said there are five shifts that healthcare organizations must prioritize:
- Move from tactical fixes to a holistic experience strategy.
- Go from fragmented care to connected ecosystems.
- Transition from population-centric to person-centered.
- Shift from incremental improvements to extensive innovation.
- Change from insights as a department to a culture of consumer obsession.
The researchers found little progress in those areas.
“Increasingly healthcare organizations’ own bottom lines require meeting consumers halfway or more. So, it is increasingly in everyone’s best interests to make sure consumers are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled, so they become what we call the ‘e-consumer,’” Jeff Gourdji, a partner at Chicago-based Prophet, said in a statement.