Contributed by Nick Sorensen, Chief Operations Officer at American Healthcare Lending
A lot has been said about the challenges we are collectively facing as our entire healthcare system experiences a dramatic shift on a number of fronts. At the top of the list for healthcare providers is the shift in financial responsibility for healthcare payments from payers to consumers.
As William Fox, SVP of Payment Strategy for Emdeon, said recently in an article for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), “Healthcare providers and payers are rapidly moving into a new ecosystem – one in which providers get paid directly by consumers with high deductible plans and payers compete in a marketplace where switching plans is as easy as going online to an exchange.” He concludes his article with a rallying cry, “It’s time for healthcare to join the consumer centric revolution for its own good.”
With this rallying cry in mind, here are the three biggest consumer trends that I see impacting healthcare providers now and in the future:
The Demand for Increased Price Transparency
J.P. Morgan predicts that out-of-pocket patient payments are expected to top $420 billion by 2015—a 68% increase in just five years. Enrollment in high-deductible health plans has tripled since 2009. I don’t know about you, but as the size of my out-of-pocket responsibility continues to increase I’m going to scrutinize my healthcare purchases more and more. New technologies are set to bring price transparency to the forefront in the coming years and healthcare providers who miss adopting these technologies are going to suffer. The healthcare consumers of the future will decide to spend their healthcare dollars where they see the most value for the care they want or need.
The Shift to Mobile
In a recent global survey, FICO found that 80% of people would like the option to use their smartphones to interact with healthcare providers. According to another recent report, the number of mobile health (mHealth) apps has doubled to 100,000 since 2012. This is no surprise: as the rest of the world shifts to mobile, consumers are wanting to have mobile interactions with healthcare providers. Mobile devices are already facilitating medical consultations, pre-admissions and scheduling, financial arrangements to pay for large out-of-pocket expenses and much more. As more consumers adopt mHealth technology, things like mHealth devices and wearables that diagnose, communicate, and track your health will become more mainstream and will feed the consumer demand for a mobile experience with healthcare providers.
The Need for a Consumer-Centric Experience
When was the last time you were “wowed” by the customer service at your primary care provider or local hospital? As consumers, we have come to accept the fact that although our healthcare providers care deeply about our health and well-being, they may not have the best way of taking care of the intangibles (or tangibles for that matter) that make for a great consumer experience. As consumers move further into the spotlight of payment responsibility, healthcare providers are recognizing the need to become more like Nordstrom and Zappos in creating a company culture that is laser-focused on the consumer. This isn’t as simple as adding more call-center reps, online chat, or a tablet-based check-in system, although those things may help. Healthcare providers are going to need to undergo a massive culture shift in order to truly become consumer-centric and stay ahead of the mounting revolution.
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About the Author:
Nick Sorensen is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of American HealthCare Lending, the nation’s premier Patient Financing company and creators of the Financing as a Service™ (FaaS™) model. Surgical centers, physician groups, hospitals, and clinics throughout the country subscribe to American HealthCare Lending’s online patient financing platform in order to help their patients pay for elective surgeries, high deductibles, and large out-of-pocket medical expenses.