The Patient As Consumer: The Future of Hospitals
For a very long time, patients have been simply that: patients. But things are shifting in our world with the Affordable Care Act, and patients are now becoming more like traditional consumers. In order to keep patients healthy and happy—and coming back for their ailments in the future—hospitals have to keep their patients satisfied both inside the hospital walls and out. Let’s look at how things are changing, and what that means for hospitals.
Consumerism In Healthcare
While the Affordable Care Act helped insure millions of people across the US, many deductibles also rose significantly. As these patients became more responsible for a larger chunk of their medical bills, they’re also becoming much, much more selective about their healthcare. Before, shopping around healthcare was practically unheard of. Now, though, patients are acting as consumers and finding doctors and hospitals that they believe are treating them appropriately.
When patients become more responsible for their payment, they become much more conscious of how they’re spending their money. They also become much more demanding about the care and service they receive. It’s not simply a matter of a doctor’s bedside manner, any longer. From the moment they walk in until they make their final payment on the bill, they expect top-notch service, courtesy, and care. If a patient feels slighted, they will likely take their healthcare needs elsewhere.
Knowing Your Customer
Up until recently, hospitals have primarily focused on treating the patients who come in sick, or make an appointment. They filled an obvious need, and there wasn’t such an importance placed on drawing in new patients. Now, though, as many hospitals are struggling with revenue cycle management, there’s a greater push to reach out to patients before they’re patients.
In this case, hospitals need to take a page from traditional marketing efforts of retailers. It’s important for retailers to understand their customers outside of the walls of the store. They need to know things like where they live, where they work, socioeconomic status, the places they shop and eat, and other consumer data so that they can not only plan marketing campaigns to pull in more people, but also better understand their patients after they’re inside the hospital walls.
Consumers live digitally. They research digitally, shop digitally, and spend more time than ever looking at screens. Most other segments of our lives have moved to digital, but healthcare still relies very heavily on face-to-face interaction, for the most obvious reason that it’s easier to see and treat an illness when a doctor can physically see the symptoms.
However, with telemedicine and other digital treatment options taking a firm hold in the healthcare field, it’s inevitable that technology will start to infiltrate the remainder of healthcare. Increasing access to digital information will be a move many healthcare providers will start to make—not only to counter some of the misinformation about diagnoses existing elsewhere on the internet but also to simply provide more resources and create a better bond between the provider and the patient.
A big part of this shift to consumerism in healthcare means receiving payment. Patients who are satisfied will be more likely to pay their bills on time. We can help you with efficient revenue cycle management and keep your patients happy while they pay their bills. Contact HCM today to learn how.