What does Consumerism in Healthcare Really Mean?
Healthcare has always been a focus in my life. My father is a Physician and my mom was a Registered Nurse – they met at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC. Today I am helping healthcare organizations with digital engagement and I am often asked about “Consumerism” with respect to healthcare. All patients are already consumers. The way we see consumerism at Vee24 is simply making sure the patient journey has the same types of options patients (consumers) have come to expect when getting loans, buying cars, or shopping online at their favorite retailer.
Now, I know the first thing that popped into the mind of every healthcare professional reading this is “but healthcare is different.” That is true, healthcare has different risks, privacy, and educational needs. What isn’t different is how patients want to communicate, educate themselves, and interact with you. Patients who can reach you digitally with text, video chat, over any device, including a kiosk at your location are empowered.
Your patients are already empowered, they can buy a car online, talk to a loan officer over the web, so why aren’t they able to meet their healthcare needs online? Empowered patients want to interact with providers, payers, and 3rd party reference sites (i.e. webmd.com). For example, 53% of senior citizens use the internet to investigate healthcare issues. While society, governments, for-profit, and not for profit organizations have all tried to change the healthcare industry. It has often been an inside out approach not focusing on patients and their expectations.
Using live-engagement technology to reach your patient is how you can build transparency and trust between them and your organization. Technology has made consumers across industries feel more empowered, so why shouldn’t it be the same for your patients? While the patient journey changes based on age, risk factors, etc, patients still want to engage. Whether your patients want to get some basic information from a ChatBOT, video chat with a physician, message to schedule an appointment, or simply get some basic insurance information.
I believe that consumerism will affect the healthcare industry, the patient journey, patient outcomes, and consequently, how they will be measured and reimbursed. There is already a wealth of information about ensuring a holistic view of the patient and their overall health. But the patient empowerment will add aspects to that measurement that will be paramount to payers and providers.
The reality is that “Consumerism” is already here and your patients expect to connect with you digitally using any device they choose, and through different digital modes (ChatBOT, live-chat, etc.) The one thing we all need to acknowledge is that change is hard – but we will continue to see the patient journey being adapted to patient expectations. As many of our customers have headed down this path of live digital engagement we recommend any organization to start small and evolve with a crawl, walk, and then approach. This may sound simple but it is the only way to create a solid foundation for better patient engagement. Healthcare is in my genes but one thing I know is that you start small and evolve from there.
 Infographic: Senior Citizen Mobile and Internet Usage Statistics. NIKOLA DJORDJEVIC. July 30, 2019. https://martech.zone/seniors-and-the-internet/.