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Healthcare Consumerism: When the Patient Is Shopping

One increasingly-popular model for slowing the growth in healthcare spending and addressing affordability concerns for consumers is “healthcare consumerism,” where patients are encouraged and empowered to shop for products and services more widely than they are today. This creates additional market forces beyond the traditional insurer/provider negotiation model, allowing providers to compete on cost as well as quality, service and other existing factors.

For healthcare organizations, this creates both challenges and opportunities that can be addressed with effective IT strategies, including many mature capabilities that are common in high-functioning retail organizations. When it comes to fighting for consumer attention by understanding their preferences, anticipating changes in demand and offering personalized communications and promotions, retailers have been relying on data longer than many other industries have existed.

When healthcare consumers are shopping, providers begin to look like multi-channel retailers. And just like traditional multi-channel retailers, organizations trying to attract consumers can improve their performance by using big data analytics when aligning product mix, promotions, messaging and media choices based on customer spending levels, purchase history and browsing behavior. Data also allows organizations to determine market potential based on sales forecasts, trade area demographics, competitive activity and more while hyper-localizing what in retail would be “assortment plans” and in the medical field are services provided in a particular location.

The medical industry will continue to be in a unique state of turbulence and uncertainty for the foreseeable future. That’s why, when it comes to the coming push for healthcare consumerism, it’s helpful to recognize that this is one area in which there are competitive advantages to be gained from the big data successes of the retail sector, customized for the unique needs of a medical environment.

Interested in learning more about how best practices in retail consumer engagement can be applied to a medical environment? Contact us today to learn more.


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