Saturday, January 18, 2014

I am a healthcare consumer. Do you know what I need?

I am a healthcare consumer and spending more out of pocket than I ever have in the history of healthcare.  I see the data on price and wonder why it’s so different when you won’t tell me why? I have seen the quality data but wonder if I will get sick from a hospital acquired infection, have an accident or get the wrong medications?

I am a healthcare consumer and see the nice advertisements and billboards for the hospital or health system with shinny trophies and award logos, but I don’t know what that means. The hospital or health system claims world class care but how do I know that is really true? I see what people are saying about the hospital or health system in social media circles.

I am the healthcare consumer who is newly insured because my employer sent me to the marketplace to buy my own insurance, or my policy was canceled due to ACA. I am the healthcare consumer who never had insurance before so why should I use you?

I am the healthcare consumer.

I read an interesting article published by Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare 2.0: Patient as consumers the other day and it caused me to pause by catching my attention. Then I started thinking what does that mean for healthcare marketing?

As healthcare evolves to a semi-retail environment difficult choices and decisions by hospitals and health systems are on the horizon.  And hiding behind the “we’re healthcare and we are different” won’t make those choices and decisions go away.

Granted, healthcare will never be a fully consumer driven market in the traditional sense. Some healthcare treatments, screenings etc., are needed by patients because they just don’t know about those services but that doesn't mean decision-making any longer without consumer market research.

Healthcare providers need a deep understanding of who the healthcare consumer is, what their needs are both perceived and unmet.  Now that being said there will always be services that need to be offered, but if you are communicating with a 25 year old, should you really be taking to them about colon cancer screenings or the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse?

This market dynamic is really transformational. Market research to achieve a deep understanding of who the healthcare consumer across all you market segments is needed like never before. That includes a voice of the customer program as well. And marketing needs to be at the table in this discussion and playing an active role. It is no longer I think this is the right way because the Board, doctor’s, senior management or the clinician’s had an idea. It’s now I know this the right decision in program design, communication messages and market approach because it’s based on facts.

And these are topics I have been writing about for the past several years now.

I am the healthcare consumer. Now what are you trying to sell me?


Anonymous said...

I too am a healthcare consumer, for myself and others. I have been promised more transparency, coordination of care, great technology, etc. But have I actually experienced this? Not really. I have found it difficult to get a price on a simple PCP visit... physicians who don't share information effectively.... physicians who disagree and don't speak to each other, leaving me to figure things out with (gasp) internet help... insurance requirements that slow down or complicate even routine care. And well-meaning but overworked PCPs who can't possibly take the time to coordinate care. You want me to be a responsible healthcare consumer? Then please, let the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and the rest figure out how to keep their promises before throwing more advertising messages at me.

Jen Kobylar said...

Yes – a deep understanding of the new health care consumer is needed! Many thought the new era of health care, ushered in by the ACA changes, would bring about an empowered the health care consumer. But the truth is that many health care consumers are reluctant and anxious because they are not prepared and not equipped to shop for health care. There is opportunity for health care marketers to step in and get to know their customers, their needs, and walk in their shoes. We talk about the steps to take in our latest white paper “Meet the New Health Care Consumer: Reluctant. Anxious. Looking for help.” It’s an interesting time for health care marketers. Right now, not only is the consumer need dramatically different from what it was six months ago – it’s not entirely defined and will require marketers to be attentive and agile. Thanks for the interesting blog post.