Healthcare Consumer Behavior — Is Everything Old New Again? Not Quite.

Here we sit, at the beginning of 2023, and in so many ways consumer behavior looks much the way it did in 2020. It’s been a rollercoaster three years, and by many accounts, the wants and needs of consumers are emerging from a COVID-19 stalled stupor and returning to pre-pandemic levels. But healthcare consumer behavior is different than it is in other industries. 

For many sectors, consumers are returning to their old ways; they are traveling again, going to see movies in actual movie theaters, and are willing to spend money, albeit in a bit of a tempered manner given current economic uncertainty. But in healthcare, everything old is not new again. The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about the way healthcare is delivered. And it changed the way patients expect to receive care. How we respond to that in 2023 will make all the difference. 

There’s no shortage of opinions about how we go about this.Patients are expecting to be treated equitably, and they want experiences that are not just about treating an illness or an episode of care. They expect to be treated like whole people, not just patients. They want experiences that make them feel heard and understood. They want services that help make them healthier individuals, and that might be grocery delivery or a ride to a doctor’s office. It might be resources about affordable food options or help with medication adherence. And one thing is clear: if you’re not thinking about how you can make the patient experience better — more clear, convenient, and empathetic, you’re missing your chance to get it right with your consumers.   

What does patient engagement done right look like?

Patient engagement, when done right, is a way to drive better business. Patients are looking for experiences that mirror the digital experiences that they use and expect outside of the hospital setting, and when they see that kind of experience, they are more likely to be engaged in their healthcare. We know that the healthcare industry is behind in this respect, but it’s catching up. 

It’s time to reimagine patient engagement as a profit center that delivers reclaimed revenue, increased affinity, better clinical outcomes, supported care teams, and equitable healthcare — regardless of payment model.

When given the tools and experiences they desire — those that prompt engagement and motivate action — patients can be an extremely valuable asset or partner to achieve the outcomes you care most about. To provide those tools and experiences, you have to go where the patients are. You have to understand what they need — and what they want.

Get Well is in the throes of the deep heart of healthcare, and we bring patient engagement in there with us — we’re literally in the hospital. Through our omni-channel, multimodal, digital-first platform, we can help organizations maximize patient reach and promote self-service, which is what patients have been craving. We do this through experiences that mirror the experiences patients use except outside of the hospital setting encourages engagement. And when you provide a better experience for patients, you provide a better experience for the clinicians using the technology solutions, improving their satisfaction and efficiency along the way.

Is it time for consumer choice in healthcare?

Healthcare consumers truly have more options regarding where, how, and from whom they receive care than ever before. This places pressure on providers, payers, and entire health systems to get it right — to improve the entire patient journey. Digital consumer technology is one way to respond to that challenge, providing digital intimacy and delivering personalized care experiences that feel intuitive and seamless, not complicated and intrusive. 

And you want healthcare consumers to choose you. Healthcare consumer behavior is ultimately no different than any other kind of consumer behavior. And just like in other sectors, healthcare consumers are looking for a digital experience — something literally in their hands that allows them to access what they need to know and what to do. As other players in the industry continue to offer services that are easier and more convenient, healthcare consumers will choose to receive care outside of your system. Unless you can keep up. 

Carrie Liken, Head of Industry, Healthcare at Yext summarized this nicely in a piece earlier this year. 

“Because individuals are seeking care via digital channels and constantly focusing on local options, healthcare organizations will need to do a better job understanding the digital experiences and optimizing for those to focus on providing personalized, convenient, and affordable care options in order to meet patient needs. Consumer choice will reign supreme – and this means competition for patients will be as strong as ever.”

The bottom line

Healthcare organizations are going to have to make the changes, or patients will make the changes themselves. As pricing transparency and other industry drivers that influence healthcare consumer behavior become more pervasive, hospitals and health systems will be compelled to invest more in the patient experience.

With more transparency and control over choices and more insight into what is even possible regarding healthcare delivery, patients will leave for a better experience. It was nearly a decade ago when Jonathan Perelman of BuzzFeed was featured in a blog post for Forrester stating that “content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” He was right then, and in 2023, the message has even more truth to it. You have to have the right content — education, engagement, and yes, the literal care that you provide — but how you distribute it, how you deliver it, makes all the difference. Delivering digital consumer experiences isn’t a nice to have. It’s not just a good idea. It’s how you’re going to attract and retain your customers, because if you don’t do it, they will find someone who does. 

Learn how Get Well can help your organization take patient engagement to the next level by providing exceptional experiences that meet the needs and expectations of patients and clinicians alike. Schedule a demo today!