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Friday
Jul202018

Consumers and Digital Technology: What’s the Deal With Healthcare?

by Clive Riddle, July 20, 2018 

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has just released some preliminary findings from their 2018 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers, which will be published in August, on the heels of their recently released Deloitte 2018 Survey of U.S. Physicians. Deloitte shares that “consumers and physicians typically agree that virtual health care holds great promise for transforming care delivery. Yet many physicians remain reluctant to embrace the technologies, worried about reimbursement, privacy and other issues.”

Thus Deloitte found consumers are well ahead of providers on the technology acceptance curve, and many providers are dragging their feet in meeting rising consumer demand in this arena. Dr. Ken Abrams, managing director, Deloitte Consulting tells us "Changes in health care reimbursement models, combined with growing consumer demand, are driving health systems to embrace virtual care, but they are struggling to get physicians on board."

The Deloitte surveys found:

  • 64% of consumers and 66% physicians “cite improved patient access as the top benefit of virtual care.”
  • “About half of physicians surveyed agree that virtual care supports the goals of patient-centricity, including improved patient satisfaction (52% agree) and staying connected with patients and their caregivers (45%  agree)
  • “While 57% of consumers favor video-based visits, only 14% of physicians surveyed have the capability today, and just 18% of the remainder plan to add this capability.”
  • “Clinicians worry about medical errors (36%) and data security and privacy (33%) associated with virtual care.”
  • “Email/patient portal consultations are the most prevalent virtual care technology used by responding physicians (38%), followed by physician-to-physician consultations (17%) and virtual/video visits (14%).”

Moving beyond just virtual care, and examining the healthcare digital experience as a whole, the global brand and marketing consultancy Prophet has just released a two part report: Making the Shift, Part I Healthcare’s Transformation to Consumer-Centricity (25 pages) and Part II  A Culture Change Playbook for Healthcare Transformation (also 25 pages.) They found that “ healthcare providers, payers and pharma companies are not making significant strides toward consumer centricity despite increasing demands and competition for healthcare dollars.”

Jeff Gourdji, a partner at Prophet, tells us  “consumers want to be treated as powerful participants in their own health.  Increasingly healthcare organizations’ own bottom lines require meeting consumers halfway or more. So, it is increasingly in everyone’s best interests to make sure consumers are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled so they become what we call the ‘e-consumer.’”

Prophet paints the picture at the start of their report like this: “With the rise of digital technology, consumers have unprecedented power. Consumers expect business categories like retail and consumer goods to provide individual experiences across both the physical and digital worlds. While other businesses are shifting their focus toward delivering meaningful and valuable consumer experiences, healthcare has largely stayed the same. And, until recently, it hasn’t had the imperative to change. However, pressures from governments and employers to lower costs and pressures from consumers to meet ever rising expectations means that driving consumer engagement and redefining how healthcare organizations interact with people is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. While healthcare organizations are feeling pressure to upgrade their consumer experience, with a focus on how to engage and empower consumers, the path to accomplishing this is unclear.”

Immediately below this intro, the next section header asks “What’s the Deal with Healthcare?” They share survey results that “81 percent of consumers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experiences, and the happiest are those who interact with the system the least.”

Some of Prophet's other survey findings include:       

  • “Fewer than 10% of all healthcare organizations say they are “most willing” to partner with digital companies     
  • Only 21% of respondents believe that ‘practical and important innovation is coming from digital startups’ compared to over 50% of respondents who believe this innovation is coming from providers and medical device companies         
  • "Only about a quarter (27%) of surveyed companies measure relationship metrics like Net Promoter Score despite evidence that consumer metrics are critical to driving a commitment to consumer centricity.”
  • "Only 15% of respondents reported a willingness to consider adding leadership from outside the industry, even when those leaders would be supported by a healthcare-savvy team.

Prophet goes on to share on elaborate on “five shifts that organizations must prioritize to reshape into more consumer-centric businesses:

  1. Moving from tactical fixes to a holistic experience strategy
  2. Moving from fragmented care to connected ecosystems
  3. Moving from population-centric to person-centered
  4. Moving from incremental improvements to extensive innovation
  5. Moving from insights as a department to a culture of consumer obsession

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