The Biggest Healthcare Trend in 2016 and Its Impact on Three Other Trends
Consumer is the Word…it’s got groove, it’s got meaning.
The big trend in 2016 (and potentially a contender for a future healthcare office buzzword Bingo game) is…CONSUMER. True, the industry has been talking about the evolution of patients into savvy consumers for more than a decade. But this is one trend that has finally arrived. Driven in part by unsustainable pressures in payment and reimbursement models, the need for patient financial responsibility has grown and as a result, patient segments are being forced to act like consumers. Other patient segments are choosing to be consumers.
So, who are these consumers? You can almost picture it: an ethereal land of sublime beauty where healthcare consumers use technology and information to improve their quality of life and select cost-effective, outcome-based care.
But then, there’s the healthcare consumer operating in the realities of our 2016 world. No image needed, just think of your most recent visit to the doctor or pharmacy. Did the experience leave some room for improvement?
Don’t confuse my sarcasm as negativity. Healthcare consumerism will be good for the industry and, if effective, it will reduce costs and improve outcomes. However, the rise of the healthcare consumer has thought-worthy implications on three other key healthcare trends in 2016. Let’s take a look.
- Consumer + Brand = PX (Patient Experience). Currently known as patient experience, consumer experience is an expression of your organization’s brand. Smart companies will invest in audience segmentation research and activation at a new level in the coming year. The goal of this work is twofold: one, improve patient engagement and two, create communications that drive desired behaviors not simply to raise awareness.
- Consumer + Mobile = DIY Healthcare. Healthcare IT News predicted that more than 65% of consumer transactions with healthcare organizations will be mobile and 70% of organizations will invest in consumer-facing apps, remote monitoring tools, and virtual care. Healthcare organizations will need to think about brand drivers and patient experience in a new way. PX meet UX. Healthcare organizations are not far behind other industry sectors, but it’s important for healthcare companies to remember that healthcare is personal and organizations need to think: interaction not transaction.
- Consumer + Big Data = Cyber Security. Last year, I predicted medical identity theft would continue to cost Americans billions and, unfortunately, I was right. Add in the sheer amount of data being gathered for population health initiatives, the need for cyber security has never been greater. A recent article from Fast Company encouraged “privacy by design” where organizations embed privacy into their technology and the design of their products at the beginning. Organizations also need to invest in preparing for the worst. (If you’re interested to test your organization’s “Crisis IQ” take this quiz for a spin. Note: we will not require you to post your results to Facebook.) In the meantime, make sure your organization has invested in the resources (technology and people) to keep brand and your consumers protected.
Per usual in the healthcare industry, strap on your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, because we are in for a ride. But it’s a good ride, full of needed change that will reward the companies who are not afraid to transform. Be one of them.
For those of you keeping track: 16 uses of the word “consumer” in this post. That has to be a BINGO! Happy 2016 Everyone!