For much of the 20th century, someone else paid the medical bills. Employee benefits, healthcare insurance and government agencies gave the Boomers a lifestyle in which medical costs were removed from their personal concerns. As a result, they didn’t need to apply the same considerations to healthcare purchases as they did to other buying decisions.
All that is changing, according to research by non-profit healthcare organization the Kaiser Family Foundation, which shows cost sharing rose by 77 percent over a 10-year period as covered workers pay a higher percentage of the copayments. Because of these increased costs, more people are now shopping around for their healthcare.
The Effects of Consumerism
With this shift to healthcare consumerism, the way healthcare companies interact with patients is also going to change. The 200 million American adults affected will probably shop for healthcare the same way as they do for a car, making decisions based on emotion but influenced by reports, quality measures and rankings.
Some ways to capitalize on people’s need to know are the collection and easy availability of reliable, evidence-based data, on topics such as:
1. Pricing Transparency
Provider prices are often inflated beyond recognition to include the cost of intermediaries, material contingencies and potential risks. By offering a transparent pricing structure, your company can:
- expose price gouging and unfair practices
- reduce patients’ reliance on (and cost) of intermediaries
- help healthcare consumers make informed decisions
- support the design of consumer-focused services and benefits
- reform and streamline payment processes
Since 2013, most states have required providers to submit comparable pricing data, and once this is readily available to consumers, they can use it to help them make healthcare purchasing decisions.
2. Quality of Care
The healthcare industry doesn’t do a great job of holding itself accountable, partly because of the challenges associated with standardized measures and the variety of state-level laws.
Developing meaningful data on healthcare outcomes is entirely possible, however, even at an organizational level. By evaluating the different products and services and their results, healthcare companies can compute overall ratings based on patient experience reports and clinical provider feedback, and compare them with costs.
3. A Patient-Centric Approach
For many patients, what counts most appears to be how quickly they can be seen and how they are treated. They want communications that are clear and straightforward. They also want timely attention in convenient locations and to be treated with respect by clinicians and staff.
In other words, they want to know their money matters to the providers they spend it on. With healthcare providers rapidly becoming commercial concerns in a consumer-driven society, the customer’s perception becomes the ultimate measure of the company’s success.
Call Wax Custom Communications at 305-350-5700 or visit waxcom.com for more info on marketing to healthcare consumers.