What is healthcare consumerism?
Consumerism is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as the promotion of the consumer’s interests. Healthcare consumerism empowers the patient, who is a consumer, to be a more active participant in his/her healthcare. It is a fundamental shift in patients’ preferences, behaviors, and demands around healthcare services. Patients are now able to shop for providers who are a good fit in both quality and affordability. Healthcare consumers are also paying close attention to their insurance plans and medical coverage. According to a survey, 62% of patients indicated that advance knowledge of their out-of-pocket expenses impacted their decision to have that service. As much as it is possible, patients are looking to better control and manage their healthcare costs. This includes the desire for pricing transparency, as well as not receiving surprise medical bills.
What do patients want?
Patients want to be able to compare providers and their services to make informed decisions based upon their findings. They can now go online to read reviews to choose a provider. They are opting to go to health clinics (at their local CVS or Walmart) instead of going to a hospital. Patients are also terminating their relationships with providers who are not meeting their expectations. More than ever, patients are now becoming more involved in their healthcare decisions. It is especially prevalent now because most of us are having to shoulder more and more of our medical bills due to higher deductibles. Did you know that more than half of the U.S. consumers expect their healthcare digital experience to be similar to their retail experience? Patients are demanding fast, reliable, and affordable options.
Technology has provided a wealth of information that are at our fingertips. It has given us easy access to share our experiences with others online. If we do not like the experience we have with a certain provider or facility, a competitor is just a click away. More damaging to the provider, we also have the ability to write a bad review, which will in turn discourage other patients from going to that doctor or facility. A dissatisfied patient can become detrimental to your reputation and marketing efforts. If a patient is unhappy with you or your services, you will lose that patient, and more than likely lose other potential patients as well.
What can providers do to retain and gain patient base?
In order to retain patients and keep them from switching to another provider or to gain new patients, providers must transform their services. Emphasis should be placed on transparency, access, and ongoing engagement outside of the office setting.
Healthcare consumerism is requiring a shift in the way providers market, deliver, and charge for healthcare services. The focus should be in brand-building and striving to emulate the way retail businesses operate in a highly competitive market.
What does healthcare consumerism mean to your practice? You can meet the consumer demands in the following ways:
- Providing quality service
- Easy access for appointments
- No or little wait-time for appointments
- Pricing transparency
- Making the billing and collection process easy to understand and manage
- Providing statement information tailored to your patient’s preference (i.e. in electronic or paper form)
- Providing flexible payment options
- Providing as many ways for patients to pay (e.g. credit card, check, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
- Making the payment process as easy as possible for patients.
- Making your patients feel important and not just another number to be processed
Physician Revenue Navigators is a premier company that provides revenue management for healthcare entities. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you gain more revenue within the presence of healthcare consumerism.