KEY TAKEAWAY: Excellent experience has long been top- of-mind for executives in consumer-driven businesses like retail and banking, but it’s been a much lower priority in healthcare; perhaps not surprisingly. Patient care, after all, is the healthcare sector’s core concern. And many providers have assumed that as long as they offer excellent quality of care, patient loyalty will naturally follow.
The AMA likes to point fingers at pharma for health problems, but they have a bigger challenge on their hands. Patients, more and more, are becoming consumers of healthcare and that’s especially true when it comes to choosing a doctor. Accenture research shows that today’s consumers have come to expect speed to access, responsiveness and convenient interactions with all companies they do business with—including their healthcare provider.
Just as in other industries, healthcare consumers will switch if they don’t get the experience they want. Yet, as research also indicates, give them a superior experience, and plenty would actually pay more for it .
Consumers want responsiveness and convenience
Nearly two in three consumers would switch healthcare providers for the ability to get an appointment quickly when they need it. More than half would also switch for the ability to get an appointment at a convenient location. And making it easy for consumers to schedule their preferred appointment—by offering simple online scheduling, or personalized, virtual concierge programs, for example—is just as important.
Healthcare providers have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to enhancing responsiveness and convenience by being responsive to the financial considerations that also loom large for consumers. Nearly half would switch to receive a better understanding of how much their care will cost at the time of their appointment, for instance, or to understand their bill more easily and pay using their preferred method. Since high-deductible health plans mean that more consumers are paying out-of-pocket for their healthcare, such considerations are becoming increasingly important.
Why should DTC marketers care?
We spend a lot of money to get patients into doctors based on how doctors prescribe, but that model could be thrown away. Patients see healthcare as something THEY are paying for and as thus want to be treated like valued customers. The same is happening for Rx drugs. The days of “selling patients” then moving on to the next one are coming to an end. We need to show, through actions and communications, that we value patients and are interested in how they feel about our product/brand.