Customer Experience Trends Within Healthcare
There’s a lot going on in the healthcare industry today. A lot of regulation, a lot of marketplace pressure. I think there are four trends, out of the many things happening, that we’ll highlight today that drive and focus on customer experience. First, there’s a large shift towards consumerism happening in the industry. Secondly, along with consumerism, comes a great focus on need for transparency.
Third, there are lots of new entrants in the marketplace. The government exchange programs have opened up coverage to more lives than ever before. And lastly, there are lots of efforts to bend the cost curve. The industry recognizes that the cost trends in the industry are unsustainable and the industry’s working collaboratively with itself to correct that problem.
Trend #1 Focus on Consumerism
On the payer side of the industry, there’s a large focus on large commercial accounts. The insurance companies traditionally sold directly to employers and most people who had insurance coverage had it through their employer. Today in the payer community, there’s an increasing focus on the individual markets. So whether that means companies selling direct to consumers, or companies selling through the exchanges that now are available, you see payers interacting directly with the end consumer a lot more often.
On the flipside in the provider community, you hear the phrase “patient centered medicine” a lot more often today. A provider in the past may have been focused on generating services and running patients through the specialized practice areas that they’ve focused on. Today you see more focus on wellness and preventative medicine and a large focus on the total care needed by the individual consumer, as opposed to the population that they’re running through a stack of services.
Trend #2 Greater Transparency
I think the consumerism factor takes us in this direction of transparency, as people gain more awareness of the choices they have available to them. Whether that’s the provider they’re selecting or the service that they might need or the cost implications to them. The greater the consumer focus in the industry, the greater the need for people to have a better understanding of the choices that they have available to them. A lot of folks will say that the healthcare industry is a long way behind other private service companies, where there’s a plethora of information available to help people make choices. In healthcare traditionally, that information hasn’t been as available. As more consumers enter the marketplace, the industry is focusing on helping make that information available so people can make these choices.
Trend #3 New Customers
With the advent of the affordable healthcare act and the public exchanges that launched in 2014, we’ve seen a large uptake in individual market customers who both have insurance coverage — so covered individuals in the industry is larger than it has been before. As well then, the traditional path into the provider community — the number of patients available to the providers to serve is greater than it has been before as well.
Trend #4 Bending the Cost Curve
We’re using round numbers of consumer price indexes, roughly hovering around two percent every year. The normal inflation on normal goods is a controlled amount. In healthcare that number might be more like nine percent. As the industry looks at the rising cost of medical care every year, everyone recognizes this cost growth is unsustainable.
There’s is strong desire inside the industry to solve that problem themselves. The industry has lots of solutions to offer, lots of programs being piloted. You see lots of efforts of payers and providers collaborating with each other to lower the annual increase in inflation. I’m not sure we’ll ever see it come directly to the normal consumer price index, but certainly the industry is focused on lowering the growth and cost in the healthcare ecosystem.