Healthcare is a rapidly changing field. With the Affordable Care Act, physicians will be held more responsible for improving overall quality of care. This component of the legislation places more power in the hands of patients, and they are driving other changes in the healthcare industry as well.
Much has been made of the consumer-centric nature of business, and healthcare is starting to move in this direction, according to SYS-CON Media. There are a number of trends in the consumer landscape that have the potential to further influence the new reality of the healthcare industry. Physicians should pay attention so they can be more successful in their hospital marketing efforts.
How Are Consumer Trends Changing Healthcare?
One of the biggest shifts in the health industry is increased price transparency. As a way to curb excessive hospital spending, healthcare providers will be required to communicate price information to patients. Technology is giving people more ways to compare prices before seeking medical services, especially because JP Morgan predicts out-of-pocket payments will hit $420 billion by 2015, SYS-CON reported. Patients will move to providers that can give them the most value for their money or the best price for the care they need.
Providers are required to use advanced systems like electronic health records in ongoing healthcare reform. In addition, people are continuously getting more comfortable with technological advances. Some EHR portals give physicians the ability to interact with their patients. Many people may respond to this opportunity and take a more active role in their own care. However, patients increasingly prefer to communicate through their mobile devices. Smartphones can already make scheduling and confirming appointments easier, but they may have applications for payments in the near future.
Because so many consumer brands are taking steps to significantly improve the customer experience, people are coming to expect this everywhere they go. This trend may extend to healthcare, SYS-CON said. Physicians will have to prioritize patient retention and engagement. With more choices in healthcare, it could become more difficult to keep patients at a practice in the long term.
How Providers Can Market to Patients
Healthcare has undergone some dramatic changes in a relatively short span of time, which means the same old marketing techniques may not be as effective for patient retention. Consumers have greater access to information than ever before, which makes it challenging to successfully market to the right audience. However, healthcare is even more complicated because of the tightly regulated environment and concerns over information privacy, according to Economic Voice.
Physicians' practices and hospitals need to carefully account for these new trends in healthcare to ensure they are targeting the right patients for certain initiatives. Because patients have more access to information about their choices, they may be less loyal if they do not like the services physicians provide. Focusing on building relationships with patients and educating them on ways to take more ownership of their own health can improve retention rates.