Freddy Swan

They’re your most important asset. Here’s how to prioritize their experience.

Consumers expect more from healthcare providers than ever before. And their expectations keep increasing.

50% of consumers had higher expectations from their healthcare providers in 2021.1
The percentage has increased to 63% in 2022.2

As healthcare looks to the future, it’s evident they’ll need to exceed their clients’ demands by placing them at the center of marketing and clinical strategies.

Healthcare providers can use the terms “consumer” and “patient” interchangeably, but there is a stark difference between the two. Jeff Margolis, CEO of Welltok, differentiates the terms best: patients receive care while consumers make choices.3 People are in the patient sphere when they get sick, in which case they see a doctor, accept treatment, and recover. But health isn’t confined to the doctor’s office anymore, as seen with the amount of health and lifestyle apps and services available.4 Enter the consumer, who purchases products and services to maintain their health status.

Only 15% of the population are patients at any point in time, whereas 85% are in the consumer sphere.5 It’s no surprise the latter are the dominant target audience for healthcare providers.

The healthcare industry needs to strategize and create an optimal customer experience to maintain clients. They can do this by using three strategies:
1.Prioritize the consumer experience
2.Integrate consumer voice
3.Focus on engagement6

Ochsner Health. September 2022.

Prioritizing the consumer experience uses their journey as a reference point. A provider can include the parts of their organization that impacts customer experience, center its departments around client pain points and priorities, and then let them know how to understand and interact with brand products.

Elevate the customer journey as a singular point of reference for all departments.
Include all parts of the organization that impact the journey
Align individual departments around friction points and priorities
Make it easy to understand and act on

Integrating the consumers’ voice in decision making provides additional insight and strategy. Providers can consider creating test panels to learn which internal decisions are well-received. Before launching a new initiative or product, providers need to ask themselves, “Do we know what the customer thinks about this?”7 The most successful healthcare brands view their clients’ voice as a requirement.

Engagement measures success. It’s how providers keep track of revenue and consumer loyalty. Maintaining metrics will help providers know if their brand is consistently used by the same clients, as opposed to one-time use.

Disruptors are noticed. To transform the consumer experience, brands need to think differently and become disruptors. Category disruptors have consistently been the most successful providers; they understand client expectations are shaped by experiences outside of healthcare.

Rewards are celebrated. Today’s consumers are driven by convenience and rewards. Think of Amazon providing free delivery and easy returns. Or the reward program at Starbucks that helps customers save money. Or Disney’s focus on its guests over any process or rules. The list of non-healthcare brands, particularly automated ones, goes on feeding client expectations.

As a healthcare provider, you must own the consumer’s journey. You can start by taking your current journey and reviewing both front and backstage processes. Build a map of your ideal client path and include all touchpoints. Scale and hardwire after looking into local and system solutions. Moving from self-service to an automated, continuous connection will keep your customers loyal.

Key takeaways to create a better healthcare experience:
1.Think like a disruptor
2.Put the consumer first
3.Reimagine from the ground up

The expectations of healthcare consumers keep increasing and remain driven by outside sources. Partner with Frederick Swanston to keep up with them. Our strategies and insights will help you retain clients by meeting their needs in the healthcare industry.

1 Actium Health Research. “State of Patient Engagement in 2022.”
2 Ibid.
3 Becker’s Health IT. “Consumers vs. Patients: Healthcare’s biggest misunderstanding.” 18 February, 2015.
4 Joanna Belby. “Communicating With The ‘Consumer’ v. The ‘Patient’ in Healthcare.” Forbes. 15 April, 2016
5 Becker’s Health IT.
6 Jennifer Bollinger and Sondra Brown. “Forget about the Metaverse: Patient Experience IRL is the immediate opportunity for healthcare.” Ochsner Health. September 2022.
7 Ibid.