Healthcare Consumerism and its Implications:
Healthcare consumerism is the health industry’s shift towards a more value based care; it is a movement for a more cost effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services. It connotes the patient taking control of their health and wellness by managing all aspects of one’s healthcare landscape – including health benefits, medical insurance and retail health. In short, the goal of healthcare consumerism is to enable patients to become wholly involved in their healthcare decisions.
The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour, which in turn has deeply influenced the health ecosystem. There have been major implications such as the adoption of a more in-home and online engagement vis-a-vis a more physical one. With a sharp decline in various parameters of mental health and physical health during the pandemic, there is an increasing chance that tele-calling and digital engagement will propel healthcare consumerism even further. This will enable making it a more permanent part of the way people approach their health.
How the Healthcare Ecosystem is under Pressure:
The disruption of health consumerism is however, not without any pressure. The average customer is accustomed to the growing advancement in digital technology across all sectors in life. From banking (digital wallets, mobile pay), entertainment (Netflix), retail (Amazon) to travel (Uber), everything is a click away. Hence, there is a growing pressure on the healthcare ecosystem in a few critical ways:
1.Cost-effectiveness: With more innovations, consumers are expecting affordability in services. However, medical breakthroughs never come cheap and the longer a person lives, the higher is usually the cost of care.
2. Transparency: Consumers are often withheld from the final cost of the treatment, until it has already been incurred. With health insurance, cost breakups continue to create further confusion.
3. Access: Healthcare service providers haven’t been quick on the uptake when it comes to making care accessible and convenient. Issues surrounding reimbursements still create confusion for consumers.
4. Choice: Due to excess competition between service providers, it has been observed that service quality often drops and treatment/product cost increases. While there are an array of healthcare services to choose from, lack of information when it comes to comparison usually limits consumer choice and decision making.
The Disruption in Motion:
Healthcare has long vied for patient-centricity. Post the Covid 19 pandemic, new players have their eyes set on the healthcare market and are exploring abundant opportunities to enter the industry. Large scale and successful companies with proven customer focus like Amazon are demonstrating the credentials required to conquer the market. With abundant reach for customer intimacy and the right technology up their sleeves, some of the market leaders are in the process of making a breakthrough, soon.
67% respondents of a survey in 2020 believe that UnitedHealth and Optum healthcare might pose a severe risk to traditional healthcare providers in the USA. 66% of people vouched for CVS Health, 56% for Amazon, 39% for Google and Alphabet respectively and 38% for Apple.
Some of the other companies to disrupt the healthcare ecosystem include:
1. CareMore: A delivery system in partnership with Lyft has created a ride sharing app. This app allows providers, patients and caregivers to request rides, reducing non-emergency medical transportation by 39%. This intuitive and consumer-friendly transportation also aligns with the primary healthcare trend to drive inclusive digital healthcare programs. This helps in using the Medicare and Medicaid funds more economically.
2. CVS: recently merged with Aetna, CVS owns 10,000 retail stores in the USA and plans to convert some of its stores to provide non-emergency health services, serving as one stop shops for all healthcare needs. This merger has lead to a database of 65 million patients and a mobile digital prescription program.
3. Oscar Health: Is a relatively new entry to the health insurance space. It is extremely popular for its rich data science. Hence, this enables them to design optimal provider networks, real time testing and a personalized experience for every member on their database.
Further Disruptive Innovation:
The first digital healthcare revolution started with the launch of the internet browser in the 1990’s. For instance, this involved establishing a digitally connected ecosystem to form a steady foundation of an improved healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare providers could correctly understand and assess specific health intervention needs. For instance, they can create a well rounded care delivery system and categorize patients to deliver a seamless and hassle free experience for the end customer.
According to Accenture, 66% of heathcare organizations are transitioning towards a digital ecosystem, with the human in mind. While this sector has been slow to embrace the digital disruption, it has not been immune to it. However, with the everyday evolution of solution and delivery models, it is important that interaction between service providers and customers continue to change. There are a lot of the hurdles that the sector has to overcome. For instance, this includes various regulations, data security needs, physician-centric systems, in order to usher innovative disruption in the industry.
The key pieces that need to come together to create a more disruptive innovation in the field of healthcare consumerism:
- Strengthen the digital record-keeping of a person’s health data to include physical, emotional and other behavioural aspects of health. This includes going beyond only clinical and financial data of the patient.
- Introduce personalization to tailor make individual plans, in line with their skills, abilities and needs.
- Above all, a digital ecosystem that redefines the healthcare space by making it more intuitive and keeping the care getter at the center of the relationship.
Healthcare consumerism needs to undergo a massive shift in the way the healthcare market plans, delivers, markets and charges for their services. Like banking, retail and entertainment, healthcare providers will need to build their brands to be able to survive in a highly cut-throat and competitive market. With the pandemic still very much present in people’s lives, we can expect the following in 2021:
• Higher premiums and out of pocket expenses for consumers.
• Employers to come up with improved tax-advantage plans.
• A more personalised, intuitive and open channel of communication to be set up by healthcare organizations.
• Active dissemination of information when it comes to reviews, information and advice through digital channels by service providers
• Healthcare to become market driven.
With anxious and worried consumers leaning more toward a value and conversation driven approach, healthcare will have to surpass its focus on volume and provide attention to patient care. With healthcare consumerism on the constant rise, the question is how are we going to generate an efficient, cost-effective and profitable system that suits people sitting at both sides of the table?
Like other businesses, if you too are looking for IT Solutions for Healthcare Services, Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have significant experience over the years working with Healthcare IT Companies. We have a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, who have developed many custom virtual healthcare solutions for our global clients over the years.
Here are a few interesting projects we have done to develop virtual health solutions. Click here to know more: