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Why Consumer-Centric Care is Lagging


New research from Prophet shares five key shifts healthcare organizations can make in the move toward consumer-centricity.



Healthcare is not making major strides toward consumer-centricity, despite increasing demands and competition for healthcare dollars, according to a new survey.

Prophet, a global brand and marketing consultancy, wanted to understand how healthcare organizations are transforming themselves to be more consumer-centric. It conducted i 60+  in-depth interviews with healthcare executives from  organizations such as Mayo Clinic, Novartis, and Aetna for its 2017 study “The Healthcare Shift: Making the Transformation to Consumer Centricity – Part I.” The report identified five shifts that organizations have begun to make on their path to transformation.

“Consumers want to be treated as powerful participants in their own health in partnership with healthcare organizations,” says Jeff Gourdji, partner, Healthcare Practice Lead at Prophet. “They need to be empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled.”

To understand how healthcare organizations are addressing the evolving needs of consumers through the five shifts, Prophet then moved forward with a quantitative survey with 240 healthcare executives around the globe. The research identifies insights on where healthcare organizations are making progress and where they are struggling to make the transformation to a more consumer-centric approach.

“Healthcare executives must be prepared to transform their organizations to become more consumer-centric to remain relevant to consumers and competitive in the industry,” Gourdji says. “There is a massive opportunity for healthcare organizations that can make the shift toward consumer-centricity.”

The five key shifts are:

  • Shift 1: From tactical fixes to an experience strategy. Many healthcare organizations have one-off customer experience initiatives instead of creating a cohesive journey that leads to a broader strategy.
  • Shift 2: From fragmented care to connected ecosystems. Consumers should be able to easily navigate receiving and paying for their care but the lack of communication between payers and providers create significant obstacles.
  • Shift 3: From population-centric to person-centered. Healthcare organizations need to learn how to tailor experiences that engage consumers in a way that helps them get and stay healthy.
  • Shift 4: From incremental improvements to pervasive innovation. Healthcare organizations must foster a stronger culture of commercial innovation while being mindful of their responsibilities to provide safe and effective care.
  • Shift 5: From insights as a department to a culture of consumer obsession. To become truly consumer-centric healthcare organizations need to move from simply gathering data to infusing the right insights and analytics to create a culture of customer obsession.

“Consumer centricity is required to win in today’s era of active consumers,” Gourdji says. “Consolidating health systems and commoditized plans and medicines means greater consumer engagement is required when competing for consumers as they select their system, their plan and their drug. Additionally, funders of healthcare are demanding greater value of systems and drug manufacturers, requiring consumer centricity to get consumers to change their behavior and, in turn, drive down healthcare costs.”

No strides being made

Generally, there are a couple of reasons there are not significant strides toward consumer-centricity.

First, due to the highly-regulated nature of the industry, healthcare is slow to undertake major transformations that may impact their business, according to Gourdji. “Secondly, there is limited collaboration between the different sectors-pharma, providers, and providers-and up until now, there’s been limited incentive for the sectors to work together. But with the growing trends toward consumer-centricity and reward for value, we expect to see more collaboration within the healthcare industry.”

The pharmaceutical companies that were surveyed report the most progress moving toward consumer obsession-or empathy for what is important in their customers’ whole lives-but still lag significantly when it comes to developing holistic strategies spanning the entire healthcare journey and expanding beyond purchase and administration of their products, according to Gourdji.

“Payers have also made some progress on the consumer obsession front, using available data from wearable technology, claims and clinical forms, to analyze and distribute data across the business,” he says. “However, this segment of the industry struggles with the challenge of fundamentally changing the relationship with consumers from transaction manager to personalized health partner.”

Providers have made some advancements in translating data into insights, Gourdji says. “Where they struggle most is moving from tactical fixes within the confines of a doctor’s office to a healthcare journey spanning periods of wellness and illness.”

Additional key findings include:

  • The industry is hesitant to partner with digital health companies. Fewer than 10% of all healthcare organizations say they are “most willing” to partner with digital companies. And only 21% of respondents believe that “practical and important innovation is coming from digital startups” compared to over 50% of respondents who believe this innovation is coming from providers and medical device companies. “Yet such partnerships can enable traditional organizations to quickly gain exposure to innovative, agile, and consumer-centric mindsets,” says Gourdji.
  • Only about a quarter (27%) of surveyed companies measure relationship metrics like Net Promoter Score despite evidence that consumer metrics are critical to driving a commitment to consumer centricity.
  • Diversity of thought can bolster differentiation, and healthcare organizations can benefit from bringing in outside leadership from consumer-centric industries such as hospitality and retail. Yet only 15% of respondents reported a willingness to consider adding leadership from outside the industry, even when those leaders would be supported by a healthcare-savvy team.
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