COVID’s Effect on Healthcare Consumerism

With the rise in healthcare consumerism, the healthcare industry is undergoing an unprecedented level of transformation.

COVID-19 has dramatically altered the trajectory of consumerism in healthcare.

This transformation becomes clearer when you consider the data from a consumer survey done by Ketchum:

  • During the wake of the pandemic, 45 percent of consumers reported that they have already changed their healthcare brand preference
  • 62 percent expect to do so once the pandemic has ended

This begs the question: how will your healthcare facility stay competitive and top-of-mind among healthcare consumers? How will you increase patient loyalty?

In a recent 2021 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report by NRC Health which surveyed over 300,000 American households, 52% say that convenience is one of the most important drivers for choosing their providers.

For sure, technology will play an increasingly important role in this evolution. But so will the frequency and quality of human interactions.

Value-for-money, quality of service, and more importantly, an outstanding patient experience will be key defining factors to remain competitive.

In this article, we will dive into what every healthcare provider should know about this healthcare consumerism trend.

What is healthcare consumerism?

Healthcare consumerism on phone
Healthcare consumerism on phone

Healthcare consumerism means patients are becoming more involved in their own healthcare decisions and well-being.

In essence, it is the empowerment of the patient—the economic purchasing power and decision-making shifts into the hands of the consumer.

This trend has been accelerated by the Affordable Care Act, which left many consumers with large deductibles.

Patients “shop” for the right fit of quality and affordability. They are demanding fast, reliable, and affordable options.

Patients are increasingly acting like consumers, trying to make the best decisions for quality and cost—just as they do with any other commodity.

What does healthcare consumerism mean for providers?

Healthcare consumerism entails a massive transformation in how healthcare providers deliver, market, and charge for healthcare services.

Today, patients can access much more detailed information about important factors such as a hospital’s complication and readmission rates and even online reviews from other patients.

Providers will need to focus on improving the patient experience, building their brands, and operating more like a retail business in a highly competitive market.

Healthcare providers are now discovering what other sectors have long since known: Everything is about the patient experience.

Therefore, the healthcare industry is increasingly looking to the retail industry for ideas on how to meet consumers on their terms.

According to NTT Data, 59% of US consumers expect their healthcare digital customer experience to be similar to retail. They want healthcare experiences that are as frictionless as those offered by airlines or ecommerce industries.

The retail industry heavily emphasizes the convenience factor and understands this concept very well that the retail clinic market is expected to surpass $8 billion by the end of 2028.

The impact of healthcare consumerism and working to meet consumer demands

Impact of Healthcare Consumerism Mnet
Impact of Healthcare Consumerism Mnet

One of the key impacts of healthcare consumerism is that patients are becoming increasingly cautious about how, when, and where they pay for healthcare services for themselves and their family.

According to the Deloitte 2020 Survey of US Health Care Consumers, some of the implications of healthcare consumerism to providers include:

  • Deploying new tools and services: Healthcare consumers are now more willing to adopt new digital tools that can play an important role in the future of care and have the potential to increase consumer satisfaction.
  • Earning consumer trust through empathy & reliability: To earn the trust and loyalty of consumers, providers need to demonstrate transparency, reliability, and a sense of empathy in their operations.

Patients are now more frequently asking about their out-of-pocket expenses before receiving treatment.

Most patients have the ability and want to pay their medical bills, but they don’t always understand or “trust” the amounts they see on their bill.

Consumers want convenience and choice in their healthcare interactions. They also want their healthcare providers to harness technology in interacting with them. They want experiences that put their needs at the center.

Therefore, healthcare consumerism is also having major impacts on the contact centers that interact with patients on behalf of healthcare organizations and providers.

Having engaged conversations with patients instills trust and providing patients with tools to manage their financial responsibility empowers them to act.

Conclusion:

Online appointment scheduling, patient contact centers, mobile payment technologies, and payment plans all lead to the path towards consumer-centricity.

Working with patients based on their actual needs will help create a positive financial relationship with them, thereby increasing patient loyalty and boosting collections performance.

This is why Mnet’s Patient Billing Solutions can help your center thrive in the era of healthcare consumerism.

About Mnet

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy-to-navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Mnet is the premier revenue cycle management & technology provider to the surgical industry. Mnet provides customized patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Mnet Health partners with over 900 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor to the leading ASC management companies in the US both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices.

Mnet’s tailor-made brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities, and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay. Mnet’s patient-pay solutions significantly increase self-pay collections while creating a better financial experience for patients. For more information, visit mnethealth.com.