The face of 2020 will haunt us for a long time to come. We were true to these times of fear and courage, despair and hope. But above all it has been a time when we had nothing to prove but the fidelity to the spirit of holding on.
It is this very spirit that transformed the face of healthcare in various ways -significant among which is the expectation of the healthcare consumer. It has shifted irrevocably. Pandemic-led economic slowdown has forced consumers to take a serious look at how they ‘shop’ for healthcare. Their spending shows an upsurge – but then, so does their discernment. Speak about a balancing act.
Patients are looking for the same type of care and responsiveness that they have growing used to from other sectors. Their experience with how banking and travel brought value to the game has become the base value; not just monetary value but societal values too. In that sense, it is no more transactional – if it ever was, in the first place.
They care about value – and values!
Google defines healthcare consumerism as – a movement where individuals take more control of their own health benefits and healthcare decisions.
The Mintel 2022 Global Consumer Trend talks about 5 major changing consumer trends, overall. Healthcare consumerism, most definitely, stands impacted too.
Now more than ever, the healthcare consumer wants to be in control. Patients want more information, transparent pricing and are not hesitating to seek a second opinion (wait, make that ‘opinions’) on everything – healthcare provider, diagnosis, treatment, and physician’s and facility’s credentials, pricing and best deals, you name it. When uncertainty rises, so does the need to feel in control
Today, we see command changing hands
A semi-rural consumer can now access health information through National Health Portal, that brings several health initiatives to the patient.
They can track their fitness levels through a mobile app and get personalized coaching or manage their ovulation cycles through a digital monitor. Furthermore, the advent of digital has allowed innovative start-ups to reach their customers online and depend less on traditional channels like pharmacies and diagnostic labs
Post-lockdown, consumers are eager to go back to their lives of fun and enjoyment. They want every physical and digital experience to be refreshing and enjoyable. There is a several-fold increase in health and wellness offerings. Health trackers and wearables are designed to ‘play’. Death dared us during the pandemic. Why-so-serious is now the sentiment.
Consumers want healthcare facilities to be more friendly and less morbid. Healthcare facilities have been given a facelift many times over. The ‘hospital’ scents are slowly fading giving way to more friendlier fragrances. The sounds of silence are gradually giving way to therapeutic music. The staff is dressed and trained to be more cheerful. If a matron is smiling, it could actually be directed at you. Wonder of wonders.
The rooms are less intimidating.
Healthcare becomes more, well, human.
It’s important to the consumer that the healthcare provider has a good intention at heart. Consumers want the do-good brand. Talk-good-only will not suffice. Patients are more questioning of the necessity of the medical procedures and diagnostics being recommended to them. They are not taking too kindly to cost surprises
They have never been better informed, thanks to the web, much to the chagrin of a healthcare system which is physically and mentally ill equipped to handle a questioning consumer
Consumers are looking up to brands that are mindful of their environments. They appreciate a healthcare that thinks of the risks of its biological waste, they have better trust in facilities that pose lesser health hazard to communities.
Though this rise of consumerism may still be an urban and semi–urban phenomenon, with the rural still waiting in the wings for access, it is still a step forward in demanding accountability and responsibility.
In a world that is newer and more questioning, the consumer awakening is driving organizations to offer better value and be more ethical; not because, if they don’t they will perish but because if they don’t the consumer will, and then there will be no point of it at all.
Let’s take it in the right spirit.
Founder, CEO, Brandcare