In The Rapidly Evolving Landscape of Healthcare
Patients are no longer tethered to a singular provider network. They are now opting instead to distribute their care across a multitude of platforms. As the industry adapts to this shifting paradigm, healthcare providers must use the power of data and establish comprehensive metrics to truly understand patients as consumers. Integrating consumer-focused metrics into strategic planning presents certain complexities. However, it is an essential step for healthcare systems aiming to stay competitive in this dynamic environment. Continue reading to explore the challenges faced by health systems as they endeavor to integrate patient data effectively.
The Evidence Is Stark
American patients are no longer steadfastly loyal customers. Each year, they diversify their care across an average of four to five distinct provider networks. The healthcare landscape boasts an array of choices, spanning from innovative virtual and primary care providers to emerging retail players and urgent care facilities. It’s not surprising that patients seek diversity in their healthcare experiences. To remain competitive, traditional health systems and provider organizations must embark on a journey to comprehend patients in their roles as healthcare consumers. Understanding the intricate mechanics behind their decision-making processes, their underlying motivations, and the how, where, and why of their engagement within the broader healthcare ecosystem.
Additionally, they must decipher how the dynamics of supply and demand shape the markets in which they operate. Indeed, the battle for patient engagement is on the horizon. A staggering 44% of Americans are active Amazon Prime members, contributing to Amazon’s extensive reservoir of consumer data for its ongoing healthcare expansion and targeted strategies. The largest healthcare system in the nation, HCA Healthcare, engages with only 1% of Americans through its care delivery system. As healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems navigate this new terrain, they must take a page from the playbook of tech giants like Amazon. They need to start adopting consumer-focused strategies to thrive in a shifting healthcare economy valued at $4.3 trillion. This journey begins with data utilization and metric establishment.
Two Pivotal Challenges
One of the foremost challenges encountered by health systems in their pursuit of consumer-focused metrics integration lies in the limited scope of data tracked in this domain. Another hurdle is the reliance on a handful of traditional consumer/patient satisfaction metrics, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores, to project future patient behavior. For example, this will forecast a patient’s likelihood of returning to the same system for care based solely on their self-reported satisfaction with a prior hospital experience. However, patient satisfaction does not serve as a reliable metric of future actions. A patient’s consumer profile may deviate significantly from their intentions.
Healthcare leaders should refrain from banking on patient satisfaction measures to predict and account for future patient behaviors. Instead, they must scrutinize patients’ actual behaviors and weave this information into their strategic planning fabric. To fortify their competitive stance and vie for a dwindling pool of patients, health systems must establish clear-cut measures and metrics that better cater to consumer needs—whether at the individual, organizational, or market level. Among these, two critical categories of metrics warrant diligent attention:
Consumer-focused Preferences and Proclivities
Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have adeptly employed data from consumer-focused metrics to study diverse customer segments, tailoring their services accordingly. Amazon’s recommendation engine communicates with shoppers through personalized product suggestions, based on past purchases and potential interests. Regrettably, healthcare systems and the broader health economy have lagged behind in adopting such data-driven practices, even though they are indispensable for long-term patient engagement. Health systems must probe deeper to decipher whether a patient’s absence results from a lack of available appointments or a preference for another provider organization.
While some questions may prove more challenging to answer, enhancing technological infrastructure allows health system leaders to deploy data engineering resources effectively, linking patient healthcare utilization patterns with behavioral profiles on a grand scale.
- Does the data unveil patterns of no-shows or cancellations during specific hours?
- Does the integration of consumer behavior data unveil fresh insights into the behavior of distinct patient demographics at different times of the day?
- Can psychographic profiles elucidate internal dynamics or identify reasons behind the loss of market share in specific specialties?
These are the real-time insights that become apparent when health systems collectively harness healthcare and patient behavior data, exploiting resources readily available within the healthcare ecosystem. By grasping the driving forces behind consumer behavior and decision-making, health systems can take tailored steps to engage and serve healthcare consumers, all while respecting their preferences and needs.
Share of Care
Organizations outside of healthcare that take consumer-focused metrics into consideration invest into understanding the economic underpinnings of their businesses. They diligently track their total addressable market, market share/value, and strategies to outperform competitors. Healthcare systems should adopt the same ethos. They must transcend mere revenue targets and delve into understanding their “share of care” within their respective markets.
Utilizing Internal and External Data
What proportion of a health system’s treated patients received care interactions outside the purview of that health system? Health system leaders can look at internal data, encompassing patient journeys across care settings and individual electronic medical records. External data, including local U.S. Census data, benchmarks, and indicators of leakage from health plans, also provide valuable context. Understanding the total addressable market and applying patient behavior metrics are essential for strategic investment decisions. Many health systems have invested in specific access points, such as telehealth and urgent care, with the expectation that these will serve as the “front door” to care, securing patient loyalty for future procedures and healthcare needs.
Utilizing Longitudinal Patient Data
However, longitudinal patient journey data reveal that this hypothesis does not always hold true. This realization can significantly impact service line and investment decisions. Unfortunately, data fragmentation and lagging interoperability initiatives impede access to such vital information. Electronic medical records data, while informative, often neglect patient interactions beyond the walls of a health system’s organization. In a landscape offering more healthcare options than ever before, knowledge is the most potent asset at the disposal of health systems. The healthcare delivery landscape grows increasingly competitive. So, health systems must become data-driven, and align with metrics specific to patients. Armed with consumer-centric insights, health systems can prepare themselves to compete for a share of care in an environment where the supply surpasses current demand for services. The original article was published on hbr.org.
How Welter Healthcare Partners Can Help With Consumer-focused Metrics
With decades of experience we take pride in helping Hospitals, Private Practices, and offices across the US. Using our services like Revenue Cycle Management, or Provider Enrollment, can ease the burden of “back office work”. This will open up your employees time to focus on the happiness of patients!