Dissecting Healthcare Consumerism in 2016 To Meet Patient Expectations

As 2016 gets under way, healthcare providers have an even deeper need to fully understand their patients’ expectations for care. All of the typical aspects of provider excellence are still important in measuring quality of care, but with new patient expectations, there are new ways to determine patient satisfaction.

As their out-of-pocket expenses increase, patients are looking at their healthcare costs in much the same way they determine other large expenditures in their budget. In order to compete in the healthcare market and thrive in 2016, it's imperative to commit your organization to develop processes to meet (and exceed) patients’ increasing list of expectations.

Healthcare Consumers' Expectations

To exceed patient expectations, the key is in engagement throughout their healthcare journey. Healthcare consumers are looking for more than reputable medical professionals. They need to be included in all stages of the conversation, from first appointment through determination of treatment, and ultimately bill payment. Patients want to understand what options are available to them before making a decision for services.

The Affordable Care Act has created an unprecedented necessity for patients to fully understand their benefits. Just take a look at the graphic below from the Institute For HealthCare Consumerism:

  • Millennials are most concerned with monthly premium and out-of-pocket costs when it comes to selecting a health plan. What's more interesting is how these concerns differ based on age.
  • Older Gen X'ers and Baby Boomers are more concerned with choosing a health plan that accepts their family doctor.
These trends show how healthcare consumers' opinions have changed, and how they will continue to be more money-conscious.



Patient Engagement Strategies

In the coming year, it's essential for health systems to develop strategies to increase performance in areas where customer service may be lacking. Some things to consider:

1. Transparency

Transparency in billing and treatment plans are crucial for your patients. Healthcare consumers want to be informed at all stages of the process in order to budget their medical bills in advance and fully understand what needs to be done to achieve the best health results. Shockingly, 45 U.S. states receive an "F" for price transparency laws and initiatives according to the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. The graphic below shows how far the U.S. has to go before patients receive the level of transparency they are looking for. 


2. Mobile Apps

Many of your patients live large portions of their lives through their phones and other devices. Offering a mobile app allows them the convenience of checking their balance, making payments, and even scheduling appointments on the go. Because most of your patients are constantly on the move and rely on their mobile devices for instant access to information, this is the best channel to reach them.

3. Self-Service Technology

Many health systems have found that the convenience of self-service technology, such as patient check-in kiosks, not only improves the patient's overall experience, but can streamline the entire patient experience. The results are improved patient satisfaction and more successful collection of patient balances.

These are just a few ways that healthcare providers can improve the patient experience. Other avenues to consider include personalized communication on platforms which are convenient to the patient. This may include email or text reminders, and blogs or newsletters which provide ongoing educational materials. There are number of ways to engage patients today, you just have to find what is most practical for your organization.