Healthcare Consumerism: The Importance of Meeting Empowered Patients’ Preferences

I know what I want, and I want it now. This phrase is actually part of the lyrics to a song released in 1993 by a group called Culture Beat. Doesn’t it perfectly describe the idea of healthcare consumerism, though? 

A popular industry buzzword, healthcare consumerism is defined as people proactively using trustworthy, relevant information and appropriate technology to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare options, both within and outside the clinical setting. More simply put, it refers to consumers being more active and engaged in their own healthcare. 

Healthcare consumerism is a top priority for many C-suite industry executives. One hundred percent of chief marketing officers identify it as an issue that takes precedence for their organizations as do 90 percent of healthcare provider executives. 

Drivers of Healthcare Consumerism 

Why the seemingly sudden rise in healthcare consumerism? The movement markedly accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even before that, consumers increasingly demanded the convenience and transparency they have come to expect in other industries. They know what they want, and they want it now! 

Rising out-of-pocket costs also have played a big role in the healthcare consumerism boom. Patients are becoming empowered consumers and spend more time researching providers and cost of care, seeking more value for their dollar. 

Another driver of healthcare consumerism is more individuals focusing more attention on their wellness. They want frictionless access to services that support their wellness but also require a provider they trust to keep their personal information protected and private. 

Research has shown that consumers indicate that four healthcare journeys — getting coverage, understanding benefits, finding care and saving and paying for it — are of high importance, yet that goal often goes unreached. 

Part of the problem is a lack of personalization from providers. Although 85 percent of consumers believe personalized care is important, many indicate they aren’t receiving it. And, 76 percent of consumers find that frustrating. That’s why it’s essential that providers not only implement different patient outreach strategies for divergent consumer segments but also consider individuals’ preferred means of communication. 

Meeting Patient Preferences 

Meeting patients where they are is crucial for any healthcare practice that wants to stay competitive. With healthcare consumerism, patients expect their provider interactions to be quick, convenient — and digital. 

Why the focus on digital health? Digital tools enable patients to schedule appointments and pay bills on their own time, offering them the convenience they prefer while reducing the administrative burden on practice staff. 

We’re basing this on research. Just look at these statistics:

  • More than 60 percent of patients prefer to book an appointment digitally instead of through a phone call.
  • Nearly three-quarters of consumers want an online payment option, and 56 percent want digital options for managing their care.
  • More than half of consumers would consider changing healthcare providers if the practice didn’t meet their communication channel preferences.
  • Half of patients report that a bad digital experience with healthcare could ruin their entire experience.
  • Of those 50 percent of consumers, 26 percent would change to a different healthcare professional with higher-quality digital offerings.
  • Roughly 35 percent of Millennials and younger patients are willing to switch healthcare providers for better digital management tools. 

HIPAA-Compliant Text Messaging

Perhaps the most often utilized digital health technology is text messaging. According to MGMA, about 70 percent of physician practices are using some form of text messaging to communicate with patients. 

Maybe that’s because the response rate of text messages is an astounding 209 percent higher than a phone call. Or due to the fact that, along with automated calls and emails, HIPAA-compliant SMS text messages can reduce no-show rates by up to 50 percent.  

Text messaging is preferred by patients over email, phone and seemingly obsolete snail mail. Roughly 90 percent of consumers say receiving automated appointment reminders via text is important to them.

Using text messaging as a digital health tool is especially important for reaching younger patients. That’s because 75 percent of American Gen Z and Millennials told researchers that they prefer to communicate with other people via text message — as opposed to actually talking with them. 

Automated technology like text messaging enables providers to deliver relevant and valuable messages at scale while still maintaining a personal level of communication. It allows them to easily and securely send patients automated text messages to nudge them about an upcoming appointment and remind them of their care plan guidelines. In a group of studies involving 2,742 patients with a range of chronic conditions, interventions via text message doubled the odds of medication adherence, raising the rate of adherence to 67.8 percent.   

For providers, using text messaging in their digital health toolbox to remind a patient to pay a bill has the potential to increase cash flow and strengthen the practice’s revenue cycle. In a recent study by U.S. Bank, 44 percent of surveyed patients report paying medical bills faster when they receive digital or phone notifications about billing, and 49 percent would pay by text if available. 

The Providertech Approach to Healthcare Consumerism 

At Providertech, our Population Health Outreach Platform modernizes care and transforms patient engagement to support improved outcomes. Our clinical team can help you create a customized outreach strategy to support your patients by navigating them along their healthcare continuum. We’ll also aid you in enhancing patient engagement goals by giving your patients improved access to their clinical support teams using secure, real-time HIPAA-compliant texting, streamlined appointment settings and cancellations and contactless check-ins. 

Talk with our solutions team today to understand how our secure two-way text messaging solution will enhance your member communication and engagement while meeting the patient preferences highlighted through healthcare consumerism.