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Only 23% Have Consumer-Centered Healthcare Capabilities

Consumer-centered healthcare ranked as a top priority for healthcare executives, but few said they had the capabilities to develop consumer insights, a new survey found.

- While approximately two-thirds of healthcare leaders view consumer-centered healthcare as a priority, especially in light of value-based reimbursement, only 23 percent stated that their organization had the capabilities to develop consumer insights, according to a recent KaufmanHall and Cadent Consulting Group survey.

Only 23 percent of healthcare leaders said their organization implemented consumer-centered healthcare capabilites

Consumer-centered healthcare has become a top priority for most hospitals and healthcare systems as patient financial responsibility increases and value-based reimbursement models link patient engagement and loyalty to payment, the survey stated.

“Enabled by the internet, navigating high deductibles, managing busy lives, and focusing on staying healthy, consumers are shopping for new levels of access, convenience, and price,” researchers wrote. “At the same time, the emergence of value-based payment links health system revenue to the ability to maintain consumer loyalty and to engage patients in health improvement.”

However, the survey of executives at over 100 healthcare organizations found significant gaps in consumer-centered healthcare prioritization and capabilities. Approximately 70 percent of respondents reported that consumerism was an above-average priority, but their organization had few advanced capabilities in place and actions were not always aligned with organizational strategy.

Only 10 percent stated that consumerism was a high priority and their organization already had advanced capabilities to draw consumer insights. However, 20 percent of participants said their organization viewed consumer-centered healthcare as a low priority and had few advanced capabilities.

Researchers found that many healthcare organizations faced significant capability gaps across the core elements of consumer-centered healthcare, including patient experience, strategic consumer insights, broad patient access, and strategic pricing.

For example, most healthcare leaders (79 percent) reported that patient experience was a high priority, but only 18 percent said their level of capability was advanced. Similarly, 68 percent of respondents ranked developing strategic consumer insight as a high priority, but only 16 percent stated their capabilities were advanced.

Kaufman Hall Chart on Consumer-Centered Healthcare

While many healthcare executives recognized the importance of consumer-centered healthcare, the survey showed that many organizations were only in the early stages of developing consumer insights. Most of those in the beginning stages (93 percent) reported that they are applying consumer insights to decision-making in marketing and communications, followed by strategic planning (83 percent), facilities and services (75 percent), site selection (55 percent), investment (52 percent), and pricing (42 percent).

In terms of more advanced consumer-centered healthcare capabilities, only 15 percent of participants identified their actions as advanced and 28 percent said they were taking some advanced actions.

Kaufman Hall Chart on Consumer-Centered Healthcare Advanced Actions

Some healthcare executives also told researchers that healthcare should review consumer-oriented best practices from other industries, such as retail, to develop more advanced consumer-centered care.

With so few organizations ranking their capabilities as advanced, researchers identified the top barriers to consumer-centered healthcare implementation. Based on survey results, some of the most common challenges were resistance to change, lack of urgency, competing priorities, skepticism, lack of clarity, and limited data analytics tools.

To help healthcare organizations overcome consumer-centered healthcare barriers, researchers advised executives to boost organization buy-in, increase content, improve capabilities, and enhance data analytics and health IT capabilities.

Organizations should align consumer-centered strategies with overall organizational priorities, suggested researchers. Executives should create a “clear link to strategic and business-unit goals.”

Researchers also recommended that organizations create consumer-related content, such as data, research, and analysis. Organizations should research key competitive issues, measure performance, and use data to improve strategies.

To develop more consumer-oriented content, however, organizations need to improve capabilities, including data analytics and health IT tools. Researchers suggested that organizations start with a small team dedicated to developing skills, prioritizing consumer-centered healthcare, and using consumer insights.

Then, organizations should start to enhance their data analytics and health IT capabilities. Organizations should audit their current data and data systems, develop infrastructure, and establish performance metrics, dashboards, and tracking.

Developing more advanced consumer-centered healthcare strategies may help organizations manage the recent increase in consumer healthcare spending. An Alegeus survey from June found that consumer engagement with healthcare spending rose from a 48.3 ranking out of 100 in 2015 to 54.4 in 2016.

The survey indicated that consumers are becoming more conscious about their healthcare spending, although healthcare spending still ranked lower than buying a TV, which scored 78.9.

In response to the survey, Steve Auerbach, Chief Executive Officer at Alegeus, said that healthcare companies can boost consumer engagement by making healthcare spending easier for patients to understand.

“What we see more of the innovative healthcare companies doing is simplifying the experience,” Auerbach stated. “This means making it easy for the consumers to understand how to save better and how to spend more efficiently.”

Image Credit: KaufmanHall and Cadent Consulting Group

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