Patients as Consumers: 9 Important Insights from the Deloitte Health Webcast

I tuned in to the Deloitte Health webcast titled "Consumers, Not Patients: Defining New Methods of Engagement with Health Care," to learn about how the shifting health care economy has positioned patients as consumers.

This webcast featured:

  • Kenneth Abrams, MD, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Sheryl Coughlin, PhD, Head of Research, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte Services LP
  • Paul Lambdin, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Harry Greenspun, MD, Senior Advisor, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte LLP

The webcast focused on consumerism in health care, the new models of consumer engagement, and implications. Some health care companies are on the frontier of this changing market, however, others are still struggling to catch up to today's more modern, data-driven, consumer focused health care.

Here's what health care companies need to know about the changing health care market:

1. "Where the end-recipient fits into health care"

Companies will need to transform their way of business. You can no longer ignore patients as consumers anymore. They are key stakeholders because of their growing influence on health care purchasing decisions. This means you have to now understand patients and their behaviors, attitudes, and unmet needs. Companies will need to work on patient awareness campaigns.

2. "There is significant opportunity to engage consumers more effectively"

Companies that are able to capitalize on new opportunities to engage patients as consumers may find that there is significant reward in understanding how the patient ticks and what motivates them. "Health care has historically brought patients to it," said Dr. Abrams, but he cited a paradigm shift that can occur with technology that enables providers to reach patients from anywhere in the world, eliminating geographical boundaries.

3. "Consumers are a driving force behind new methods of engagement with the health care system"

44% are somewhat or very interested in receiving alerts or reminders to take medication or engage in some form of treatment. What financial incentives might be around the corner for the companies that take the lead by providing consumers with these kinds of alerts? How can companies utilize mHealth to provide better experiences for patients as consumers and motivate them to continue with treatments?

4. "Changes in spending and regulatory pressure have created an impetus for change"

Market factors such as quality reporting, pay for performance, state regulatory influence, and transparency/data sharing have affected the new sustainable business model. How does your business plan to adapt?

5. "There are 6 health care consumer segments"

Deloitte Health

proposes 6 different consumer segments, varied based on satisfaction with their care, independence and technological sophistication. Do you understand the different consumer segments in your target market? If you're a medical device company, are you addressing the consumers that are "online and onboard"? Are you providing them with the online educational information they crave? Are you showing them how your technology works? Not having a strong website that provides valuable educational information that many of today's patients are seeking can be a detriment to companies as more and more consumers become engaged and demand online content.

6. "The retail consumer's needs are defined by life events - applied to health care"

The Deloitte team says it's important to design your value proposition around life events such as getting a job, turning 26, changing jobs, getting sick (chronic), getting married, having a child, etc. How well do you understand the patient life cycle? How well do you understand your patient in general?

7. "Incentives: driving the consumer toward smarter decisions, better outcomes"

You can't provide incentives if you have no connection to the consumers.

8. "Consumers are increasingly receptive to health care solutions that leverage technology"

Don't assume consumers aren't ready to embrace technology. Many are doing quite the opposite: demanding technology. Dr. Greenspun talked about how consumers are increasingly receptive to health care solutions that leverage technology, and that technology has the ability to simplify and liberate consumers.

9. "Can consumers really get enough adequate information to make choices?"

It was mentioned that it's easy to find the best leash for a puppy, but it's harder to find out the best knee replacement or the best doctor for a colonoscopy. One issue is fragmentation of information. Also, there needs to be information not only for patients but also for doctors. This means that companies need to do a better job at creating high quality educational content.



It's becoming increasingly apparent that our health care model in the U.S. is shifting and that companies will have to make changes to stay healthy and profitable. One of the most important takeaways is that the patient is becoming the center of health care. What this means is that companies will need to put a higher priority on understanding the patient, engaging the patient, communicating effectively to the patient, and reaching the patient via a variety of mediums, including new technology. Our marketplace is competitive and as the market continues to demand it, only the companies that adjust will survive.

Patients as Consumers: 9 Important Insights from the Deloitte Health Webcast