“Patient consumerism” and “patient engagement” are two phrases we hear a lot in the healthcare industry today, but did you know that one affects the way you should approach the other? Because today’s patients are carrying more of the financial responsibility for their health care, they are also approaching this area of their lives with more of a consumer focus, looking for more than just adequate care. This means that patient satisfaction is vitally important for practices who want to maintain their patient populations, and patient engagement is a fantastic place to start. Read on to learn more about what patient consumerism is and how it affects patient engagement.
What is patient consumerism?
Patient consumerism, also known as healthcare consumerism, refers to a growing trend wherein patients take more control over their own healthcare. Driven by an increased responsibility when it comes to care costs, today’s patients will shop for the best value they can find when it comes to their care, embracing their personal responsibility and choice.
In general, today’s patients are more informed about their health, and they will use that information to proactively pursue care. While this is typically positive, there is a potential downside in that sometimes patients have found misinformation and providers will need to use valuable time to correct inaccuracies. With more informed and actively involved patients comes greater expectations for engagement, and your practice will have to keep these expectations in mind in order to keep your patients satisfied.
3 Ways Patient Consumerism Affects Patient Engagement
The basis of patient consumerism is that today’s patients have a greater level of choice in their healthcare providers, and so they are approaching selecting those providers in much the same way they approach other consumer decisions in their lives. With this in mind, it’s important to put a larger focus on patient engagement, particularly engaging patients according to their priorities. Here are three things to consider related to patient engagement in light of patient consumerism.
- Today’s patients expect simplicity and convenience. Remember, patients today are approaching their health care choices in a manner very similar to other consumer activities. In most other industries, from retail to financial, patients have become accustomed to a level of convenience. So it makes perfect sense to them that they should have convenient access to care when they need it, and that getting that access to care shouldn’t be complicated. Whatever you can do in your practice to deliver on this expectation will help to improve patient engagement.
- Today’s patients expect digitization. Technology and automation are everywhere trying to make our lives easier. Online shopping, online banking, and even ordering pizza from your favorite pizzeria online are all a fact of life today, so it’s no wonder patients want digitization in their health care experience. Implementing tools such as online scheduling, digital intake, and the ability to make payments online are all ways to satisfy today’s consumer-driven patients.
- Today’s patients expect a bigger focus on themselves. Patient-centered care is a must in the age of patient consumerism. Again, patients are looking for more than just adequate care, they want a positive experience. A patient’s satisfaction will reflect on their provider and have an impact on that provider’s success over time, so it’s important to tune in to your patient’s needs and priorities and meet them as best you can.
While it can feel intimidating to add patient engagement and experience into your practice’s priorities, in today’s consumer-driven health care environment it’s necessary. At Henry Schein SolutionsHub, we recognize the potential challenge this can represent and that’s why we work diligently to identify solutions that can streamline the process of improving patient engagement for your practice, from online scheduling to online bill payment and everything in between.