Understanding the Changing Consumer Experience in Healthcare

Healthwise Communications Team


The consumer experience across many industries has seen radical changes in the past 5 to 10 years. The rise of focused, consumer-centric platforms like Amazon has changed how we research our options, compare products, and ultimately make purchase decisions.

Same for the consumer experience in healthcare. The ways we access health information, select providers, and manage health conditions have transformed. A great healthcare consumer experience means healthcare organizations deliver care and interactions from the consumer’s point of view, leading to higher consumer satisfaction and increased loyalty.

Why Care About Building a Great Consumer Experience?

Understanding consumerism is half the battle. It’s important to focus on moving your organization toward a consumer-centric strategy for a few reasons.

  1. Consumerism in healthcare is rising

    Consumerism is not going anywhere and will most likely continue to rise in the future. Here are a few interesting stats that describe the change in consumerism.1
    • 60% of consumers expect their digital health care experience to mirror that of retail.
    • 50% of consumers say one bad digital experience with a health care provider ruins the entire experience.
    • 68% of consumers are more likely to choose a health care provider who offers online scheduling.
    • 52% of the U.S. population are concerned that the health information they read is not credible.
    • 77% of people use online reviews as the first step in finding a new physician.
  2. Many healthcare organizations are not currently focused on consumerism

    A study from KaufmanHall described the level of consumerism that healthcare organizations are prepared for. Most organizations (85%) are either developing a strategy or working to implement a consumer-first approach. Very few (7%) already have a well-formulated and implemented consumer focused strategy.2
  3. Consumerism is driving change

    Consumer needs and desires are driving change in healthcare. This change is evident in many areas, including the quadruple aim, which includes Improved Patient Experience as a key pillar of quality healthcare delivery.

    Consumer needs also drive change in other areas, including site of care shifts and the rise of digital health delivery.

3 Building Blocks for Great Healthcare Consumer Experience

A great consumer experience has many moving parts. Here we highlight three of the most essential building blocks for a great healthcare consumer experience.

  1. Excellent care

    This might go without saying, but the first building block of a great healthcare experience is a great care experience. The focus should be on providing the best possible care to meet and exceed consumer expectations.

    A great care experience:
    • Includes a personal touch. Does the patient feel a connection to the clinician and care they receive? Is the experience focused on the patient?
    • Is economically rational. Does the consumer understand the benefits of the care received in relation to the cost?
    • Delivers on expectations. Did the consumer’s expectations for the encounter align with what they received?
  2. A great digital experience

    A great digital experience supplements a consumer’s care experience. Consumers expect to interact with your health system outside of direct clinician care through your website and mobile apps.

    These interactions need to include:
    • Personalization that responds to who the user is and what they need.
    • Relevant and trusted information to help users research and make health decisions.
  3. High-quality available resources

    The third element of a great consumer experience in healthcare is providing the right available resources. Easy access to needed resources means a better consumer experience. There are four types of resources that consumers typically want to access:
    • Organizational resources. Share information about your organization such as physical locations, how to find a clinician, contact information, and what to expect during a visit.
    • Personal records. Make it easy for patients to find and access their health care records.
    • Education and learning. Give patients easy access to information and education on any health conditions they’re interested in.
    • Billing. Provide access to billing information and resources to get help with their bills.


Tips for Leveraging Content in the Consumer Experience

Tip #1: Understand that different consumers have different needs

A one-size-fits-all approach for healthcare is often too limiting to be effective. Consumers are different and have different needs. But you can group consumers by demographics to ensure you’re meeting their needs. For example, age groups typically consume goods and services differently and have different expectations.

  • The ages 18-29 crowd are comparison shoppers. People in this age bracket want options for care, and they need to understand cost versus benefits of services.
  • The ages 30-49 crowd are cost-conscious for themselves and those they help care for. Price is paramount for this group, and they are likely to disregard referrals for more convenient care for themselves or loved ones.
  • The ages 50-64 crowd are stay-healthy quality seekers. This group will pay more for access and convenience and are not as influenced by price.
  • The 65+ crowd are traditionalist and loyal. They value credentials and a relationship with their health care provider.

While age is one way to segment consumer behavior, it’s not the only way. Other segments might include location, economic profile, overall health status, and other socioeconomic factors.3 Understanding the segments you serve is essential to understanding their needs and how to provide a custom consumer experience.

Look to craft content in your communication that’s focused on the specific segments you’re trying to reach. Keep in mind this includes both the text and images you use in your message.

Tip #2: Build resources your consumers need

Consumers are accustomed to having the resources they need at their fingertips. Providing the right resources on your websites or apps is a big step toward engaging with your consumers.

  • Build a health education library. Consider building a health education library that’s baked into your websites and apps to help consumers find consistent, evidence-based health information and keep them engaged with your organization.
  • Provide the right resources at the right time. Consumers want relevant education that’s easy to find, so give them what they’re looking for and increase their engagement. For example, if you have a page dedicated to an endocrinology clinic, provide access to diabetes resources right on that page.

Tip #3: Leverage your data

Data can tell a world of stories. Analyzing the data you have from your consumer workflows can help you determine what consumers are looking for.

  • Determine what health education you have and what you need. Understanding where you’re meeting the resource needs of your consumers and where you might need additional resources will help you craft a content strategy to support your consumers. A content audit and inventory will help you gather the data you need to make content decisions.
  • Look for data to understand the types of consumers you serve. Understanding your consumers’ demographic data can help you focus communication efforts.
  • Have a good understanding of website content. Leverage your website analytics and tools to see what consumers are viewing—and not viewing—on your site. The gaps can help you understand where the consumer experience might be improved and what content you might need.

In general, consumerism is changing, growing, and evolving. Creating a targeted, consumer-centric approach on your website and apps is necessary for any healthcare organization. Learn more about how our digital health solutions can help power your health education content for a consumer-centric strategy.

1 https://newsroom.cigna.com/15-stats-demonstrate-rising-consumer-demand-for-digital-healthcare-experiences
2 https://www.kaufmanhall.com/insights/research-report/2021-state-consumerism-healthcare-survey-regaining-momentum
3 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/life-sciences-health-care/us-lshc-health-care-market-consumer-segmentation.pdf