Healthcare is changing.
But not many of us appreciate how significantly it is changing. A significant shift is taking place driven by increased consumerism in many sectors and healthcare is not going to get away unscathed. Consumerism, in turn, is being driven by factors such as increased access to information in an ‘always on’ world, customers sharing ratings and reviews of services with each other, greater competition (and some from potential disruptors who will come from left field – have you heard about Überdoc?) and greater expectations from consumers. Healthcare is shifting from a traditionally product-focused, transactional industry to one that is more end-user focused where people’s preferences, needs, experiences and expectations are all that matter. The days of the disengaged, un-empowered healthcare customer are dwindling. This might sound like doom and gloom but, on the contrary, this shift creates enormous potential for growth and presents opportunities to do more for patients, families and communities.
Greater consumer expectations are not only about wanting ready access to high quality care but are also about consumers wanting more from the organisations with whom they will chose to interact and share their wallet. Increasingly, consumers are looking for more meaning in organisations. They are more likely to feel confident in an organisation that doesn’t simply push out messages about what they do and how they do it, but rather in those that are able to articulate why they exist and the impact they have on the lives of the people in their communities. Many organisations might say that ‘The patient is at the heart of what we do’, without meaning and delivering on this. Well, this simply won’t be good enough in the ‘age of the customer’. Organisations will have to stop configuring themselves around internal needs and products and make sure that they are set up so that the customers’ experience pre, during and post any intervention matches their expectations.
Mounting a response to these forces is not going to be easy but will need to happen. Some healthcare organisations are starting to acknowledge this and seizing the opportunities but far too many, in my experience, are complacent and unfortunately might be left behind.
The good news is that there still is time to do something about this and that there are things we can do to embrace the change. This ‘to-do’ list to move organisations from product-focused to end-user focused is complex. It will involve a lot of new thinking both in terms of strategy and implementation. Here are two simple things to get us started:
Thank you for reading this post. I’d be interested in any comments or discussion that it might have inspired.
Michael Barker, Founding Partner of Saffron Steer. Saffron Steer is an experienced healthcare strategy business which works to create the competitive positioning, influence and impact that NHS, private and voluntary healthcare sector organisations need for growth and sustainability.