Understanding How Consumers Make Healthcare Decisions
It’s day two of my eight-year-old niece’s fever and it won’t break. Before her parents went on vacation, I promised to take care of her. Sure, she wasn’t feeling well, but it was just a fever and we were doing all the right things: Tylenol, rest and fluids. But as day two progressed, she grew more despondent and refused to drink anything. Now what?
We’ve all had to make choices about where to seek care for an unplanned health event, but today we have more choices about where to go.
Whether it’s extended hours, virtual visits or money-back guarantees, choices are transforming care delivery. Understanding how these choices shape decisions will make or break marketing strategies seeking to increase usage. That is why Market Strategies focused its latest self-funded research study on how people choose where to go when someone is sick. What we learned will help answer a question salient in the minds of every health system professional: “How do we maximize the likelihood that consumers will choose us, when deciding where to go for care?”
How we “talk” and interact has changed. Heads down. Headphones on. Thumbs moving. It’s ironic that the more we focus on our small, handheld smartphone, the more we have access to the larger world around us. When sitting on a park bench, we can call loved ones, shop at Amazon, watch Netflix, listen to Spotify and schedule appointments. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to think that most people (especially Millennials) could pretty much operate their whole world on a smartphone.
As part of our continued focus on consumerism in healthcare, Market Strategies monitors and tracks how consumers use technology. In this article, we explore telehealth with an emphasis on virtual healthcare—an attractive option to busy consumers who are now accustomed to getting what they need, the moment they need it. For healthcare consumers, this means convenient, high-quality, immediate access to care for themselves and family members that costs less than traditional office visits.
What we’re learning from our own research is helping healthcare providers, health systems and insurers offer the right tools at the right time to connect consumers with the care they expect.
Shopping. It’s as American as apple pie. When we shop, we want deals. We want value. We don’t want to get ripped off. With more information at our fingertips (literally), we rely on a wide variety of information sources to make decisions and maximize the value of our purchases. From downloading coupons and talking to friends to reading online reviews and researching product features, there are a myriad of ways to get the deal we want.
Historically, most American workers didn’t shop for health insurance—it was something employers provided to attract the right people. That has changed. Based on data from the National Health Information Survey, it’s clear that personal healthcare costs have increased each year since 2008 (see table below), and more and more consumers are relying on high-deductible health plans that have low monthly premiums. The assumption has always been that the by-product of higher out-of-pocket costs is a savvier healthcare shopper.