While true consumerism in healthcare is still in its infancy, there is little question about the direction in which the winds are blowing. It is an eventuality that healthcare consumers will become knowledgeable and sophisticated.
As they do, their purchase preferences (expectations) will evolve and become vastly more complex. The increasing share of costs born directly by the consumer is driving more and more sophisticated purchase and trade-off decisions. According to a 2016 McKinsey study, consumer choices could impact 61% of all healthcare spending. The WHO Global Health Expenditures Database pegs consumer-controlled, out-of-pocket expenditure in the US at $330 billion annually.
How Important is knowing your customer?
While that does not mean the average provider organization must deliver an Amazon-like experience overnight. Still, it does shine a light on the capabilities these organizations must develop to thrive in the future. At the core, providers must develop a keen awareness and deep knowledge of their patients. According to a recent American Hospital Association (AHA) paper, providers must be able to answer the following:
- How many unique consumers do you touch?
- Who are they?
- What do you do for them?
- How is it working for them and you?
Truly KNOWING this information will have massive implications on a provider’s ability to:
- Acquire new patients
- Develop Loyalty and Retain those patients
- Ensure they are satisfied with the experience
The last point is increasingly associated with bottom line impacts as patient experience measures factor into scoring systems for Value-Based programs (both Medicare/Medicaid and private payor-based).
It’s about time that the healthcare industry, like many other industries, is highly competitive to accelerate consumer engagement. The fight for consumer preference is intense. Some, like Jake Dorst, Chief Information & Innovation Officer of the Tahoe Forest Hospital District, even suggest that it may be an existential issue for healthcare concerns:
“As consumerism in healthcare approaches, I think the healthcare industry’s adoption rate to this trend will determine those that thrive and those that are either shuttered or become part of a larger system that has addressed their customer engagement strategies.”
Knowing your customer and catering to their preferences to acquire and retain more effectively is fundamental across most industries (B2C and B2B). Yet, in healthcare, there seems to be a limited focus (and limited results). A McKinsey survey shows that many American consumers today have weak preferences for specific providers across a broad spectrum of healthcare services.
Some of this apparent lack of loyalty could logically attribute to the nature of healthcare itself. As Physicians for a National Health Program suggest in a recent article, healthcare consumers do not want to shop for healthcare. They do not want to know all the details and have a favorite brand. They want to feel better.
It seems like perfectly sound reasoning when thinking of acute situations, but for all other cases, especially with the steady growth in healthcare costs, consumerism in healthcare is real.
So, what do providers need to do to prepare themselves?
There is no one magic bullet solution, but healthcare can take some fundamental lessons from other industries to ensure they have appropriate information infrastructure to answer those basic questions about their consumers. According to CRM Magazine, 91% of American companies with more than ten employees have implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Why is having a CRM table-stakes for most businesses?
For the answer, refer to the fundamental questions that the AHA suggests providers must be able to answer (at the top).
These answers are must-haves for almost all businesses engaged in any competitive market. And while healthcare certainly stands out as a unique market, it is slowly becoming more like most others from consumers’ perspectives. Accordingly, providers should look at other industries that have already undergone their digital transformations for cues. And CRM with a healthcare focus is a great place to start.
CRM associated with healthcare is the logical starting point because it precisely answers those fundamental questions that enable providers to know their consumers honestly. It is the proverbial “360-degree view” of the customer and much more. It gives providers new insights into their patients (and prospective patients) and the appropriate tools to engage and serve them in the ways that sophisticated consumers have come to expect.
Learn how Community Wellness Ventures implemented Health Cloud to integrate disparate systems, add automation to their patient care process, and create a custom configured platform that can grow as their organization grows.
Of course, CRM is not a panacea. It is, however, a foundational element that should be present in any provider’s technology ecosystem. Today, specialized healthcare cloud implementations of CRM are offered by major vendors, for example, Salesforce Health Cloud. When connected to the Electronic Health Records / Electronic Medical Records, it is a powerful tool that puts providers in the right position to meet head on the rising tide of Consumerism in healthcare.
At MST, we have helped our Healthcare partners ready their organizations through implementation of Salesforce Health Cloud as well as architectural design and development of enterprise integration solutions to marry their various sources of customer data / interaction. For more information on how we can help, please contact us: https://www.mstsolutions.com/contact/