By now it’s pretty common knowledge that patients are bearing more of their healthcare costs in the form of rising premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. As a result of this increased financial responsibility, they are demanding more price transparency, choice and information.
The modern patient is more active and insistent concerning their healthcare dollars — and less loyal than ever. In fact, patients switch healthcare providers at nearly the same rate that consumers switch cable and satellite companies.
All of these factors are driving a more consumer-oriented approach to care across the board. For example: Many employer-sponsored health plans, which cover about 60 percent of working-age adults, are migrating to the use of online tools to allow employees to enroll in health benefits in much the same way they would book an airline flight or hotel.
Whether your organization delivers patient care or helps providers deliver better patient care, this consumerist shift in the market needs to be reflected in your content strategy.
Emphasize the patient in “patient care”
Very often, hospital and health system content highlights innovative tests, leading-edge treatments and procedures, and highly skilled physicians. While all of these factors are important, content needs to be more holistic.
Consumer-focused content that also accentuates value and experience can differentiate providers and businesses, and position them as leaders in their respective markets. That means you should consider ways that your product offerings can impact the patient journey, how your services can help improve quality of life, or how you can address a patient’s most pressing financial or medical needs.
A cancer diagnosis, for example, can be devastating for patients and their families. Content needs to offer positivity and clarity for these patients and walk them through all the medical and surgical services available for their diagnosis, which is likely foremost in their minds. However, content also needs to describe other factors that may not be at the forefront of patients’ concerns yet still weigh into their care decisions. Ancillary treatments, rehabilitative care, psychological, financial and family support services all are good examples of content that speak to a patient’s information needs. A cancer specialist might want to remind patients about the continued monitoring available after remission, as well as the advantages of remaining with the same healthcare organization for life-long management.
By logically and clearly weaving this information into your content, a health system demonstrates to consumers that it delivers integrated and comprehensive care, conferring feelings of trust, security and peace of mind. When competing in a consumer-oriented market, it’s crucial to present your organization as one that delivers overall value.
Help providers improve the patient experience
The consumerization/patient experience message should also be a key part of content strategy for companies trying to win business from hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations. The transition from patients as passive recipients of care to active and demanding consumers impacts every aspect of healthcare.
If your solution or service helps providers with this challenge in any way — even as an ancillary feature — then your content should explain how. For example, revenue cycle management software platforms are mainly built to help providers handle all of the workflows surrounding claims, billing and cash flow. However, many such solutions are also capable of helping providers give patients a better estimate of their financial responsibility before they receive their bills. A feature like that — and the associated story about how it delivers a better patient experience — should play a key role in content strategy.
Highlight information accessibility
As healthcare consumers’ service level expectations have risen, so has the pressure for instant data access and provider communication. This trend, driven by the Age of the Internet, has had some interesting trickle-down effects. Traditional business hours, for instance, are becoming an increasingly archaic concept as more employers adopt flexible schedules that more closely mirror 24/7 retail and information availability.
Consequently, consumer-facing and business-facing content needs to emphasize accessibility — whether to providers and care teams or to clinical and financial data. Remote care through telehealth technology is one example of greater accessibility that is gaining acceptance among provider organizations and patients.
Changing industry requires evolving strategy
Consumerization is changing the healthcare industry. Although patients who are ill or planning a medical service will always seek the highest quality care closest to home, the concept of care quality has taken on a new meaning.
For patients, quality is not just reflected in a clinical outcome. Rather, patients’ experiences and quality of life throughout the entire care episode — as well as how much a service will cost them — are all part of the equation now. These differentiating factors must be obvious throughout content to make it stand out in the increasingly competitive and consumer-oriented healthcare landscape.