10.03.2012 - Posted By: Todd Yerman - Director of Business Development
There was once a time when healthcare consumers didn’t make many choices for themselves. Their employer picked the insurance provider, the insurance provider picked the PCP, the PCP put forth the diagnosis and controlled access to specialists and hospitals, and so on. But that paradigm is rapidly changing.
Today, more employers offer multiple insurance options, better informed consumers ask more questions, some even self-diagnose via WebMD and choose their own specialists based on Google Reviews. And with millions of consumers about to make choices on individual insurance plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act, this trend will no doubt accelerate rapidly.
Healthcare consumer choice is becoming increasingly important, but relatively few healthcare providers are well prepared to fight a battle in this new communications landscape – one in which marketing metrics like “consumer satisfaction” or “net promoter score” may determine who wins and who loses.
Other industries have known for a long time metrics like these have a direct impact on purchase decisions and customer retention – and it shows. A recent Harris Poll measuring consumer satisfaction reveals that the experience provided by the healthcare industry doesn’t measure up, especially when compared to industries that have been focusing on making customers happy for decades.
Healthcare providers should find the following Harris Poll numbers somewhat alarming. They represent consumer dissatisfaction rates with the following experiences.
- Last visit to a restaurant: 6% dissatisfied
- Last online purchase: 6% dissatisfied
- Last stay at a hotel: 6% dissatisfied
- Last visit to the bank: 8% dissatisfied
- Last visit to a healthcare provider: 17% dissatisfied
The lesson here is healthcare providers need to get serious about consumer experience. The quality of that experience is going to have a huge impact on the decisions made by an empowered, well-informed consumer.
The good news is many of the things consumers want are relatively quick fixes and can often be driven by marketing (with a little help from IT). Just look at what consumers told Harris they wish their healthcare provider did for them but doesn’t.
|Service offering||“Important or very important”||“My doctor actually does this”|
|Online access to medical records||65%||17%|
|Email access to doctor||53%||12%|
|Online appointment scheduling||51%||11%|
|Online billing and payments||50%||10%|
|Online cost estimator||62%||6%|
As a healthcare marketing professional, you should be concerned about the disparity between consumers’ wants and the reality of what they’re being offered by healthcare providers. But you should also recognize the opportunity. Adding the above services is a relatively easy way to sweeten the deal for consumers when compared to adding another three MRI machines or renovating your labor and delivery wing. And each of the above enhancements to consumer experience is another way to differentiate yourself from your competition in the eyes of a newly empowered consumer with many choices.
Has your organization recently sharpened its focus on consumer experience to gain a marketing edge? What worked well for you? We’d love to hear about your experience.