Healthcare consumerism is the rising trend of patients acting more like customers in a traditional retail environment. The primary cause of this change is rising patient responsibility due to the advent of high-deductible healthcare plans. When patients have to foot more of the bill, they naturally want more control regarding how their hard-earned dollars are spent, and with whom. It follows, then, that providers will need to start engaging with patients in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed, a la healthcare in the style of Amazon, at least if they want to stay relevant (and profitable) in a rapidly-evolving industry.
Meeting patients where they are.
Consumerism, in all forms, means meeting the needs, wants and desires of the customer wherever and however they want. This can seem off-putting to providers at first, given that healthcare has been one of the last fields to go fully digital. Consider the number of providers that still require patients to hand-write their information on paper forms or those that haven’t yet implemented a true revenue cycle management (RCM) system. However, success in the digital age means engaging with patient consumers in their preferred manner, whether that’s via an online patient portal, text, email, phone, video conference or instant chat. Because the truth is that if you don’t, someone else will.
In sickness and in health.
Because our healthcare system has for so long focused primarily on the treatment of illness rather than the enhancement of health, and only recently started to evolve to a more preventative model of care, clinicians haven’t had any real incentive to keep their patients engaged. However, in 2018, “If you build it, they will come,” is not an adequate strategy for recruiting and retaining patients. Instead, providers need to think like retailers and market to their audience year-round, flu season or not. Building a relationship, and giving patients a reason to value your services over another’s, is half the battle.
In fact, most providers — around 83% — have already adopted this idea in simple ways via content marketing/Facebook pages, monthly emails and Instagram accounts, that all help patients and clinicians interact in ways that are convenient for the practitioner while remaining engaging and providing helpful information to the end user. Some providers have even taken this a step further — a step that most providers will likely find they have to take some time in the near future — and that’s via the integration of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool into their overall RCM process. Harnessing the consumer data points that CRMs make available are important now, but will only become more so over the coming years.
Patient financing as a stumbling block.
A large part of any practice’s success in the age of healthcare consumerism is finding ways to communicate with patients that help foster a positive relationship. Unfortunately, one of the biggest pain points in building a stronger patient-practitioner relationship are discussions about medical costs. Curae eases some of that burden by opening up what can be an uncomfortable conversation. Integrated directly into the patient intake process, Curae gives patients the power to more easily finance their own health care needs, decreasing stress and allowing clinicians to do what they do best — provide care. To begin the process of adding Curae to your practice, get started with Curae today.