In my previous post, I discussed the need for healthcare companies to take a more market-focused approach to the healthcare consumer, including a more concentrated effort to segment the market and tailor strategies to different consumer groups.
Today, I’d like to explore the growing power of the healthcare consumer.
Overall, healthcare costs – both on the societal and the individual level – are increasing. Consumers are required, one way or another, to pay a greater share. So they are starting, albeit slowly, to ask questions about value. And they are interested in the value to themselves, individually, not to the population as a whole. How the consumer perceives healthcare value is an area that needs a lot of further exploration.
At Popper and Company, we have observed that an empowered consumer, armed with more information than ever before, is using this information to demand more tailored, customer-centric treatment from practitioners and institutions and from the tools and technology used. This customer demand is starting to move information from large centers accessible only to physicians, researchers or engineers to mobile devices, web sites and social media platforms accessible to nearly everyone.
How might healthcare innovators respond to such changes in customer demand?
- Create new metrics, like the popular Consumers Union of the U.S. rankings, that measure how customers rate a product (high/low acquisition costs, maintenance costs, product lifespan) according to their preferences. This would require healthcare providers and technology developers to consider customer input in their products and services. More significantly, it would require them to be able to describe their products and services in a way that’s comparable to a competitor’s (and in ways that consumers will understand).
- This new “report to consumers” would require the development of information systems that can read customer behavior, wants, and needs. Seeing patients as customers means considering how these customers will react to products or services, and taking those reactions into account when designing a product or service, or when developing a new treatment strategy.
Certainly, this would require quite a paradigm shift in the life sciences industry, but it’s the way our colleagues in the automobile, electronics, and durable goods industries work every day. Now, as in these other industries, consumers can educate themselves and retrieve information easily. Therefore, it’s probably time that our industry joined those other industries in putting consumer perceived needs first or a the very least on a par with what the health care providers think is “good for them.”
Do you think a consumer ranking system is possible broadly in healthcare? How readily are you now able to capture your customer’s ratings and opinions of your company or its products? Are there any other ways those developing healthcare solutions can integrate and embrace the changing role of the customer? Please share your thoughts with us.
Tags: consumer report, empowered consumer, healthcare, healthcare consumers, healthcare marketing, healthcare providers, healthcare solutions
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Practice guidelines help physicians and other health care providers deliver consistent and information-based medical advice to their patients. But health care is changing radically: Genomic testing costs dipping below $2,000, patients and consumers accessing information over the web and even ordering tests for themselves, and the general awareness of genetic information in treatment decisions, are all factors at the base of this sea change. These dynamics are leading to greater consumer demand for this personalized genomic information, and possibly to consideration of health care options based on that information.
How do we balance guidelines focused on standardizing physician behavior with individual consumer demands for testing?
A new study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Michigan has begun to plumb the depth of this new consumer interest in genomics. The Personal Genomics (PGen) study is one of the first interdisciplinary inquiries to examine why people want genomic testing now. It will survey 1,000 volunteers. Then, physicians, scientists, attorneys, genetic counselors, psychologists and bioethicists – many of whom hope the study will guide public policy and business practices in this area – will analyze the results.
Knowing what is in your genome can empower patients, further reinforcing their role as “consumers of health care.” This new power, then, would – in theory – drive their demand for more tailored care. Earlier studies found that the earliest adopters of genetic testing were simply satisfying a vague curiosity; today, however, we do not know precisely why subsequent waves of consumers are interested in testing.
As life science industry strategists who are also healthcare professionals and consumers, we at Popper and Company are wondering whether the rise of the empowered consumer will or will not be accompanied by a commensurate rise in consumer knowledge of genetics. We are also thinking about how this new consumer will interact with potentially less information-empowered health care providers, and how this interaction might impact health care delivery within current care guidelines and standards and the historic doctor-patient relationship.
How well are consumers internalizing the information provided by genomic tests? Why are they demanding it, and what are they looking for? How can physicians weave this new demand into their practice? How can a win-win situation be created? How do physicians and patients become comfortable with concepts of “relative risk” and “probability”? What opportunities and responsibilities for a broad education do test developers bear? What does all of this mean to those of you developing the tests? Are the disciplines of human behavior, biology and assay development about to converge? Share your thoughts with us.
Tags: consumer genomic testing, consumer genomics, empowered consumer, genomes, genomic testing, personal genomics, PGen
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