Four Consumer Health Trends That Can Make or Break a Business

Consumer Health Trends - Healthcare Advisors - Canton & Company

Nothing will shape the next decade of healthcare as much as consumerism. Patients will continue to look for new options in health because they view the system’s status quo as painfully contrary to their otherwise tech-enabled, on-demand lifestyle.  

Whether you’re an established health organization or a clever disruptor, your relative success will hinge on consumerism. Revenue will be a function of how skillfully you can get ahead of the emerging market-based demands. There will be winners and losers, so get ready to go big or go home.

Here are four unyielding consumer trends that won’t budge without some hard-fought, market-based innovation.

1. Consumers are dissatisfied with today’s healthcare system.

As we’ve said before, as many as 81% of consumers are unhappy with their health system interactions. By age group, Millennial and Generation Z buyers are the least satisfied. Lack of convenience, efficiency, and transparency rank among their top complaints. (Accenture)

Knowing that the purchasing power of younger generations is growing, health organizations must figure out how to win them over. And fast! Buyers want healthcare to function with the same consumer-centric advantages and individualized experiences that they’re used to enjoying in the retail market.

2. Consumers are having a hard time paying medical bills.

Few patients have cash on hand to pay for care. In fact, nearly 3 million Americans report that they’ve borrowed $10,000 or more in the past year to pay their medical bills. (West Health/Gallup)

And the cash crunch includes those who have rather generous coverage, too. Between 2008 and 2018, premium costs increased 55% for those who are covered under employer plans, and deductibles rose eight times faster than wages. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

The healthcare innovations that will be embraced the most in the next decade will address rising costs for the consumer.

3. Consumers skip care because of costs.

About 1 in 10 Americans skip recommended medical care because of the cost. (Kaiser Family Foundation) And when they don’t receive needed services or refill their prescriptions, their health declines. It’s a downward spiral that leads to poor quality of life and higher costs.

In a Smart Health Market, consumers must be empowered to shop around for good deals, not only with comparative price data but with tools that make it easy to follow through with care plans.

4. It’s really tough to nudge consumers into living healthy lifestyles.

Large employers are on track to spend an average of $3.6 million on wellness programs in 2019. (National Business Group on Health) However, a recent study found that workplace wellness programs really aren’t creating significant improvements in spending, utilization, clinical measures of health, or employment outcomes. (JAMA)

The trouble with wellness is that it’s an abstract idea — the absence of sickness.

To move the needle on wellness in a way that translates to lower cost and better clinical health, innovators must leverage behavioral economics. That is, they must find the right thing that will motivate an individual to adopt a targeted health behavior. Keep in mind each person might be inspired by something different and will no doubt have unique wellness targets.

Our Take: The Smart Health Market will be consumer-centric, affordable, convenient, and individualized. But getting from here to there is a serious challenge. Only those who keep the consumer’s perspective in mind will come out ahead.