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Why Hospitals Aren't Keeping Up with Consumer Expectations

Hospital leaders know how important it has become to meet healthcare consumer expectations. Whether an organization relies on the traditional fee-for-service payments or is transitioning to value-based reimbursements, attracting consumers, and delivering personalized experiences is critical. As H&HN Daily notes, “Regardless of the form of reimbursement, assisting people in making good choices improves the quality, efficiency and safety of care.”

And, of course, leaders in delivering on—and beyond—consumer expectations also gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. But despite the fact that hospitals and health systems consider healthcare consumerism a top priority, many aren’t developing the capabilities and capturing the data needed to address healthcare consumerism effectively. In fact, according to a report from Kaufman, Hall & Associates, fewer than one in 10 healthcare organizations are consistently delivering the experiences healthcare consumers crave.

Report identifies challenges with addressing healthcare consumerism

Kaufman Hall surveyed more than 125 hospitals and health systems across the country, using the Healthcare Consumerism Index, to measure how much organizations prioritize consumer-based strategies and whether they’re implementing effective strategies to become consumer-centric.  

Unfortunately, only 8 percent of organizations merited “Tier One” status, which Kaufman Hall defines as, “Meeting consumer expectations is a high priority; several important consumer-related capabilities are being applied with some demonstrated successes, and more are in the works.”

Where did the rest of survey respondents land?

  • 29 percent are at “Tier 2,” indicating that meeting consumer expectations is a high priority with work in progress on consumer-centric capabilities.
  • 37 percent are at “Tier 3,” with medium to low priority on addressing healthcare consumerism and only moderate activity on building out appropriate capabilities.
  • 27 percent are at “Tier 4,” which also signals medium to low priority on meeting consumer expectations and minimal activity on implementing consumer-centric capabilities.

In a brief highlighting some of the Reports’ findings, HealthcareDIVE quoted Kaufman Hall’s managing director Paul Crnkovich, who called the results a “wake-up call” for hospitals and health systems. Crnkovich also said, “In the age of Amazon and Netflix, consumers expect more from their healthcare providers. For healthcare executives, consumerism should not be just another item to be checked off a list. It should be a core capability, as it is key to long-term growth.”

The report identified several challenges:

  1. Disconnect between what matters to consumers and what hospitals think matters to consumers. Consumers care about convenient access, the consumer experience, quality outcomes, value and availability of complex care and treatments—in that order. The respondents to the survey, however, put quality outcomes in first place and consumer experience last.
  2. Inability to meet access demands. As noted above, consumers want convenient access to care, but Kaufman Hall says many organizations are just beginning to expand access with the same-day appointments or virtual visits that consumers expect.
  3. Lagging behind in digital consumer engagement. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they know offering digital tools and information is critical to consumer engagement, but only 14 percent are doing it successfully.
  4. Lack of consumer insights. Nearly 75 percent of respondents fall short when it comes to gathering, analyzing, and leveraging consumer data to drive strategic decision making. And this lack of understanding about what consumers think leads to more missteps on the path to consumer-centricity.

In the H&HN Daily article, Cerner senior vice president of population health John Glaser, Ph.D., predicts, “The patient-centered organizations that will thrive in the years ahead recognize that the traditional provider-centric delivery system must be complemented by one that seeks out, understands and responds to the consumer’s perspective.”

How do you get there? Psychographic segmentation can help hospitals gain a level of understanding that enables a more consumer-centric approach. By answering 12 questions, for example, the c2b Consumer Classifier sorts healthcare consumers into one of five psychographic segments.

Each segment reflects different attitudes about health and wellness, with its own motivations and communication preferences, that can help healthcare organizations tailor their approach to better address consumer expectations for relevant, personalized experiences.  

Healthcare organizations utilizing this psychographic model in patient engagement has seen such results as:

  • 80+ percent reduction in hospital readmissions
  • Increases in personal health goals attained and patient satisfaction among patients with diabetes
  • Doubling of results among call center nurses getting patients to choose an in-network physician following an ER discharge

Armed with a better grasp of how consumers differ—even when they share a diagnosis—healthcare organizations can deliver better patient experiences, drive engagement, and achieve better outcomes to live up to healthcare consumer expectations. What data gaps do you need to fill to become more consumer-centric and align your strategies with consumers’ priorities?

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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