Has The Age Of Healthcare Consumerism Arrived?
There are many reasons why healthcare in America is under dramatic pressures. A shifting political landscape. An aging population. Fewer medical facilities in rural areas. And of course, new technology. While each of those trends has exercised significant influence over our healthcare system in the U.S., perhaps the biggest change has been in consumer expectations and choice. Before high-deductible health insurance plans were a thing, insurance companies were, by and large, the ones picking up the tab. In an age where patient responsibility is increasing by double digits year-over-year, higher out-of-pocket costs have become the norm. And what do patients want in return for that greater share of the burden? Exactly what they want from providers of other goods and services they’re purchasing – greater choice and control around the experience and how it’s delivered.
A noted futurist, venture capitalist Mary Meeker has been an advocate of the rise of technology to solve problems, particularly as they relate to digital disruption. At her recent State of the Web presentation (a highly anticipated annual tradition), Meeker was blunt when discussing the role of healthcare in the future, positing that when consumers have to spend more of their own money for something, they naturally will pay more attention to it. While that may seem obvious, it’s been a slow progression for many, and the movement toward more 1099, and so-called “gig” workers who don’t have an employer to rely on for health coverage have only served to accelerate this trend.
So what about the role of data in this consumerism movement? Data is what gives consumers more power. In retail, this power is obvious. Within seconds, a search can be conducted to find the best price available online for an item or service, factoring in things like delivery time, brand trust, and what post-purchase support might look like. This availability of information has made delivering customer-centric experiences absolutely critical for most retailers, who have to fiercely compete for customers. Will healthcare get to this same point? In some ways, it already has. Just over 4 in 10 patients now look online for a healthcare provider, a number that will grow significantly in coming years, and accurate or not, a practitioner’s online reputation will also grow in its importance. These and other data points that have become easily available will only further fuel the consumerism trend.
At Curae, we recognize the changes happening in the administration of healthcare, including the higher burden now placed on the recipient of those services. We provide financial options to patients, including those with less than optimal credit scores who may be the most vulnerable to higher out-of-pocket costs. With an application process that provides patient options within seconds and funds to the provider within 48 hours, we can ease the financial burden for the patient, while decreasing friction in the provider/patient relationship. Visit Curae for more information, or to get started today.