As referenced in my March blog post about the patient experience, consumers are more equipped and are driving healthcare change more than ever. Between the use of smartphones, the increase in extended hours at physician clinics, the surge of ambulatory centers, and the use of walk-in clinics, healthcare is transforming.
Historically, patients went to a healthcare facility because they were having medical issues or because someone encouraged them to go. Going to the hospital or seeing a doctor was not driven by consumers, but by need. This driving force is changing as healthcare evolves.
In the retail industry, which is driven by consumers, companies make business decisions based on consumer feedback, purchasing habits, and consumer convenience. Consumers who shop at these companies are filling out feedback surveys, buying things on sale, and shopping at the store closest to home. These actions are examples of consumers providing input about what adds value to their shopping experiences.
What can the healthcare industry learn from consumer-driven industries?
Those of us in the healthcare field have an opportunity to listen to patients, our consumers. The growth of telehealth provides the industry with one such opportunity. Because of the development of smartphones and tablets, patients can connect with clinicians from the comfort of the patients’ own homes or offices. Alternative options like telehealth make healthcare more convenient and accessible to patients. These options can reduce the need to travel to a healthcare facility.
Increasingly—as consumers are more responsible for and invested in their own healthcare—clinicians and healthcare executives are looking to consumers for input to drive valuable change. When patients go to a hospital or visit a doctor, they want the best care. They want care that is the least disruptive, provides them with the best opportunities to get well, and is as minimally invasive as possible. Oftentimes, to get the best care and ask the right questions, consumers need to become more involved in their own healthcare.
What can the healthcare industry do to help educate consumers?
As consumers begin to be more involved in their own healthcare, we in the healthcare field need to provide tools to help them navigate and make decisions about their healthcare. The fitness industry has done this well. Take the Fitbit, for example; it gathers basic data and returns useful information. The healthcare industry can adopt the convenience and self-service approach and give patients similar tools based on useful data and information. With these tools, patients can take responsibility for their own health.
Learning opportunities arise when the industry listens to patients and pays attention to trends. The healthcare industry can transition from a need-driven model to a consumer-driven model that allows people to be proactive about their healthcare. If we are forward thinking and keep the consumer in mind, imagine what we can accomplish together with patients.
David Reed is currently Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Healthcare Business Solutions for Cook Medical Incorporated. With over 30 years of life science industry expertise Dave holds an MBA from California Miramar University and serves as a member of the Indiana University Kelly School of Business Supply Chain and Global Management Academy Advisory Board.