We are living in the information age where a seemingly endless stream of information of all types is available to everyone at any time. When it comes to healthcare, this easy access to medical information has helped fuel the growing trend of healthcare consumerism. Simply defined as patients finding and using information to play an active role in their care delivery, healthcare consumerism empowers patients to be more involved in their care and healthcare decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at healthcare consumerism and what it means to healthcare marketing and the healthcare industry as a whole.
Healthcare Consumerism Is on the Rise
While having easy access to information certainly helped bring about healthcare consumerism, that alone is not the reason it is growing.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of changes in the delivery of care. One of these changes is patients becoming more active in their medical care. More people are using information found online to make more informed decisions about their care.
Healthcare Consumerism Creates Advantages and Disadvantages
The rise of healthcare consumerism creates advantages and disadvantages for both patients and providers.
There are plenty of advantages for patients, including improved quality of care and greater transparency. It can also be argued that this transparency has also helped to drive down the costs of medical services.
However, there are disadvantages for patients as well. One of the biggest disadvantages is being overwhelmed by the choices patients need to consider. The days of potential patients only needing to check their insurance coverage and where to get care may be over. Today patients are exposed to much more information to consider. They often feel the need to take into account everything from their physician’s experience and employment history to patient reviews and social media chatter.
As for caregivers, it is a changing world. While in-office timelines must be met to meet practice budgets, patients demand more time to discuss information they have found on their own that may not have anything to do with their actual care. What’s more, patients who have been seeing “Dr. Google” may be hesitant to follow the advice of physicians. Healthcare professionals who have been providing outstanding care for years may have to focus on also creating outstanding patient “experiences” to keep patients happy. It has been found that patients do prefer healthcare systems that respect their personal preferences.
Healthcare Consumerism Requires a Strategic Approach
In order to benefit from an active patient/consumer base that is looking for information online, healthcare consumerism requires a strategic approach. Understanding consumer expectations and demands will help healthcare providers ensure that they are providing the right information to the consumer who is looking for it.
Healthcare consumerism has created outstanding marketing opportunities across the spectrum of the industry, from large regional healthcare systems to small independent practices. Providers can differentiate themselves and work to earn patient loyalty.
The age of healthcare consumerism is also forcing medical professionals to focus on meeting the expectations of consumers, including the patient experience.
Let Nichols Help Steer Your Strategy
Nichols Healthcare has experience in both help to create ideal patient experiences and promoting those experiences across a range of marketing platforms. To get started, or simply to have a conversation about the rise of healthcare consumerism, please reach out to me at MKlein@WeTellYourStory.com.