Last week, members of our team attended the Becker’s Annual Meeting in Chicago and had the opportunity to hear from health system executives and other industry leaders about the challenges they face and the opportunities they see around the evolving healthcare landscape. Across sessions, discussions focused on the ways in which health systems are rethinking patient engagement strategies and innovating to better meet the needs of today’s healthcare consumers. In particular, the following emerged as key themes:
1. Consumerism is a force that is here to stay
Patients are shopping for healthcare like they shop on Amazon – they are thoroughly researching their options and they are making informed decisions, particularly as they take on a rising share of healthcare costs. With so many options for care available, health systems need to earn consumer loyalty by making their services more accessible – whether that’s by increasing price transparency or expanding convenient care options by opening urgent care clinics or offering telehealth visits.
2. Get to know who your customers are & what they want
Alex Morehouse, Chief Marketing Officer at Banner Health, emphasized the need for health systems to avoid guessing what consumers want and start asking them. In her panel and several others, health system leaders spoke to the importance of truly knowing and listening to the customer to respond to their expectations effectively and proactively–a few even spoke to the missteps they’d taken by not doing so when rolling out new initiatives. For some, this meant soliciting feedback throughout the customer journey or running patient focus groups. For others, it meant leveraging market research data to understand consumer behavior and create detailed personas to make more consumer-centric decisions and drive patient satisfaction.
3. Different generations expect to access care differently
There are nuances around how members of different generations typically prefer to access care. In a discussion about earning patient loyalty, Gerilynn Sevenikar, VP of Revenue Cycle at Sharp HealthCare talked about meeting millennials where they are–on their phones. Catering to a younger generation means using apps to put data at their fingertips and expanding convenient care by offering telehealth and same-day care options. However, for baby boomers, there’s no replacement for an in-office visit or the personal relationship they have with their PCP. A one-size-fits all approach will not work. To capture consumer demand – across age groups – health systems will need to diversify their engagement strategies.
4. Care delivery is no longer limited to the walls within the hospital
Consumers expect healthcare to fit into their lives and for health systems this means offering more convenient, flexible care options. At Becker’s, there were several talks that focused on urgent care, telehealth, and the strategies around moving non-acute care to locations closer to consumers – in some cases, their own homes. Many organizations are leveraging these alternatives sites of care to increase access for patients in rural communities, to reduce unnecessary ER usage, and to connect with a younger generation who prefers quick, accessible care over a visit with an established PCP.
5. Don’t fear disruption – embrace and drive it
It’s no surprise that the healthcare industry is changing rapidly. New entrants, like Haven and Google, are changing the very nature of competition and forcing health systems to innovate around their business models and offerings. Many CEOs addressed this topic head on. Their advice? Embrace change as an opportunity and be open to partnerships with other organizations – and even other health systems – to stay ahead. And finally, don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes along the way.
Want to learn more? For the insights and research you need to stay current and power change at your organization, visit our Resource Center.