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Is Consumerism The ‘’New Normal’’ For Healthcare?

The gradual ‘‘retailization of healthcare’’ has seen a shift towards expectations of a ‘’purchasing experience’’ among patients. Does this change mean that consumerism is the “new normal” in the healthcare sector?

Today’s consumer has high expectations. Technology has transformed our purchasing power and our understanding of convenience. The “retail apocalypse” continues as shopping moves online and stores close at soaring levels. [1]

The way we access banking, pay our bills and make social connections has evolved beyond recognition.

Healthcare is not immune to this disruptive change. Patients are more discerning and more tech-savvy, researching their symptoms before visiting their physician and reading online reviews before selecting their healthcare provider.

Patients have become intelligent consumers when it comes to choosing their healthcare provider and the way – and location – in which they want their care delivered. Convenience and quality of care are their priorities. They have more information available at their fingertips than ever before and will not settle for a patient experience which fails to meet expectations.

Creating a patient centric approach to care

Research shows that 75% of consumers want the same experience in healthcare that they receive in other sectors, yet healthcare is ranked second lowest in terms of being fast to respond and offering communication choices. [2]

Healthcare ranks second lowest in terms of being fast to respond and offering communication choices. Click To Tweet

This new paradigm calls for healthcare leaders to create an innovative patient and family centric approach to delivery of care in order to meet patient expectations.

This approach includes:

  • Patient education, communication and listening to the patient voice and their needs.
  • It also includes price transparency. That means providing the costs of procedures in a manner that is understandable to the patient-consumer.

CMS has mandated that as of January 1, 2021, hospitals must publicly post standard charge information, including gross charges, discounted cash prices, payer specific negotiated charges, and deidentified minimum and maximum negotiated rates.

The ultimate goal is to add “cost of care” to the plethora of information available to patients as they make informed decisions about their health.

Delivering an exceptional patient experience

Healthcare leaders are faced with multiple challenges in delivering an outstanding patient experience, including increased competition, value based reimbursement models, higher vendor pricing, increased compliance oversight and pressure to incorporate emerging technologies and medical advances.

The solutions require innovative tools if consumerism is to become healthcare’s “new normal.”

To create a plan, hospitals must carry out an indepth analysis of their patient population, however, there is no ‘’one size fits all’’ approach which guarantees patient satisfaction.

Leaders must gain insight by listening to what their patients have to say and make changes based on this insight.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

Patients are under immense stress when facing a health crisis. They are vulnerable and frightened, concerned about the future, the cost of their care and family responsibilities.

As consumers, patients and their families want to feel empowered and listened to.

They want to share their perspectives and act as partners and collaborators in their care. At a time when the situation feels like it is spiraling out of control, hospital providers must find a way to give some control back to their patients.

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

VIE Healthcare® Consulting’s innovative tool, iSUGEZT, empowers patients and their families to take back some control.

iSUGEZT is a simple to use app downloaded by patients and their families on admission to your hospital, giving them a platform to communicate directly with leadership in real-time.

They can make suggestions, share ideas, praise great service, or voice concerns as they move through their healthcare journey.

iSUGEZT helps hospitals to address consumer expectations relating to the patient experience.

Make iSUGEZT the ‘’new normal’’ in your hospital.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/stores-closing-in-2020-list-2020-1?r=US&IR=T

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/dangingiss/2019/07/09/why-treating-patients-as-consumers-can-improve-the-healthcare-experience/#6f0c141f63a1