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Healthcare Market Research: Consumer Expectations Are Changing How Care Is Delivered

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Changes in technology and consumer expectations are pressuring all industries to adapt to new means for (or new ways of) strengthening the connection to their target market. This pressure extends to non-commercial industries, too. Now, healthcare is no longer immune.

Traditional health systems focus on encounters with individual patients where medical professionals issue a course of treatment that the patient follows. Though this authoritarian-style, “top-down” model created high levels of patient satisfaction in years past, as we settle firmly into the Information Age times have changed. Delivery of healthcare is currently undergoing an evolution to meet the desires and needs of consumers.

Market research is grounded in understanding what consumers think – not internal stakeholders, not professional contemporaries. Even the patient perspective has changed: patients are increasingly applying a consumer mindset to healthcare.

In stark difference to the past, consumers are now in the driver’s seat. Healthcare providers are tasked with keeping up with consumer expectations and, as a result, we’re seeing sweeping changes in the way care is delivered.

Convenience Is Overshadowing Personal Connection

As the oldest millennials turn 40 this year, the bond between patient and medical professional are loosening. Research reveals that 28% of people under the age of 36 lack a primary care provider.

While the in-person experience is still important, healthcare consumers are demanding – and responding positively to – care delivery models that conform to the level of ease, flexibility and instant satisfaction that they are now accustomed to receiving in other aspects of their lives.

Care Delivery That Conforms To Consumer Lifestyles

Consumer brands have long realized the importance of understanding the customer journey and tailoring their communications and services to “meet people where they are.” Healthcare providers, on the other hand, have maintained a care delivery structure that encourages patients to conform to existing care delivery methods. All of this is now changing.

Healthcare systems must now focus on creating engaging, integrated and transaction-ready experiences. Their task is to develop means that allow patients to engage in a way that suits them.

Healthcare brands are now recognizing the value in developing methods of care delivery that empower the consumer without jeopardizing the quality of care. Some of the consumer-focused advancements we have seen include:

  • Telemedicine and virtual office visits
  • Subscription model of healthcare (patients pay only for the services they use)
  • Instant access to lab results via a digital app
  • Ability to fill prescriptions through non-traditional pharmacies (ex. Amazon)

Rising Competition From Non-Healthcare Companies

Our healthcare industry market research findings reveal that trust in healthcare solutions is no longer limited to the medical profession only. Digital Natives are placing more and more trust in innovative tech companies to help deliver quality care. Healthcare brands are feeling the squeeze from outside competition.

75% of people age 18-44 would use a mobile app developed by Amazon, Apple, or Google to help find and select healthcare services. More people age 18-44 would trust Amazon, Apple or Google to develop the best online tool to help them find and select the right healthcare services than their insurance company. When it comes to being seen as a source for innovation, technology companies bring along brand affinity that puts them at an advantage. Healthcare providers have a lot of catching up to do. 

Read more: How different market research methods impact brand decisions.

Iteration Is The Key To Growth

Commercial brands understand the importance of continuing to listen to the consumer then iterate based on findings. Meanwhile, healthcare providers have been slow to adapt. Listening to and responding to customer demands is unavoidable in the competitive world of commerce. Like consumer brands, health providers must continue to evolve or risk becoming obsolete.

Consumerism requires a shift to become proactive, predictive and wholistic. This means looking closely at relationships, households, families and influencers. It also includes using data to anticipate needs and reframing how we measure success to lifetime value and loyalty and advocacy. As consumers apply this same mindset to their healthcare interactions, health providers are tasked with achieving the same level of responsiveness as consumer brands.

As we see more of a shift from volume-based to value-based care models, health providers are placing ever greater importance on patient satisfaction. Healthcare industry market research is a crucial part of the equation to extrapolate exactly what consumers value and which factors comprise a satisfying experience. This insight equips healthcare providers to establish the correct priorities to guide their brands forward.

The Future: Innovate Or Risk Becoming Obsolete

Historically, the medical field’s diagnosis-driven approach to care delivery has established a balance of power in favor of providers. On the whole, healthcare has been slower as a vertical to catch up to what consumer brands have been doing for years.

Healthcare industry market research reveals that if care providers are not actively looking for disruption, they will become themselves disrupted. If providers are not innovating in-house or seeking out innovative partnerships, they will face problems sooner rather than later.

As health providers begin to adopt the same iterative market research practices as their commercial brand counterparts, new models for care delivery will emerge that will better serve patients and medical professionals alike.

What is most important to your patients and how are you measuring up? Our experienced research analysts will help you find out.


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