For over a decade, voices across the healthcare industry have predicted that consumerization will transform our healthcare system.
Americans can now order food with the touch of a button, summon a car in minutes, and send money without leaving the couch. Yet it still takes an average of 26 days to see a physician. We’ve come to expect “life on-demand” in every area of our life — except healthcare.
But the desire for change is here.
Legacy healthcare players, new entrants, and massive retailers are scrambling to meet the demands of patients who are becoming increasingly less patient.
In a survey of healthcare executives, ninety percent of healthcare provider executives and 100 percent of surveyed chief marketing officers identified healthcare consumerism as a top priority for their companies.
And McKinsey analysis has shown that consumer-centric healthcare companies drive more than twice the revenue growth as companies in the same industry with lower patient satisfaction scores.
Meanwhile, consumers are taking a more active role in their healthcare. They’re tracking their health conditions and using that data to make decisions. Telehealth adoption reached 80% in 2022. Still, according to McKinsey research, patients remain deeply unsatisfied – so much so that a quarter of US consumers have reported deferring healthcare.
What's holding the healthcare industry back from a true consumerization transformation? What else has to happen for healthcare to become consumer-centric?
To unpack these questions, let’s look at trends we’ve seen in the consumerization of the financial and transportation industries to uncover answers and predict what changes we'll need to see in healthcare for consumer-centric care to be fully realized.
Consumerization of banking: finance at your fingertips
Twenty years ago, going to the bank was cumbersome. To make a deposit, customers had to travel to their brick-and-mortar branch, fill out physical transaction forms, wait in lines, and meet with a teller to complete the transaction. With the increasing popularity of the internet, customers grew impatient with these inaccessible banking standards.
Consumers wanted banking solutions that were faster, more convenient, and offered better security.
This shift to consumer-centric banking started with online banking. Then as smart phones became ubiquitous, mobile banking became an expected service for any size bank. Some institutions developed their own apps, some used third-party vendors.
The banks that didn’t move fast enough to meet consumer demands lost market share — and some no longer exist.
Today, we can make transfers, deposit checks, send money to friends, and make investments from anywhere, anytime, with just a few finger swipes on our phones.
Considering how digital-first banking and payments have transformed how we conduct commerce, what innovative use cases can we imagine for virtual-first healthcare?
Building consumer trust
Twenty years ago, a customer might be hesitant to give their banking information to an unknown brand, preferring to see a banker they know by name. Now, consumers don’t think twice about using digital wallets to pay for dinner or an app to sell stocks.
With the rise of digital currencies and fintech innovations like peer-to-peer lending apps, crowdfunding, and alternative investment apps, as well as improved security technology, consumer trust in digital solutions for financial management has dramatically increased. In fact, consumers ranked PayPal above their current bank or credit union as their most trusted provider for banking services in a 2022 survey from Insider Intelligence.
Lessons from banking for consumer-centric healthcare
Speed and convenience are at the top of any healthcare executive’s mind. Virtual care delivery channels have emerged as a partial solve for most urgent and low-acuity healthcare needs. But consumer trust in sharing sensitive medical information, particularly with digital health and health-tech companies, is still lacking.
Consumer trust in healthcare has not kept pace with the financial industry. In a 2022 study by Rock Health, 70% of respondents reported willingness to share their health data with their clinician. In contrast, 15% were willing to share their health data with digital health companies and only 7% were willing to share data with technology companies.
Investment in cybersecurity infrastructure and patient data management are needed to improve security and build trust with consumers. Radical transparency in how patient data is stored and protected is key to shifting consumer perceptions and propelling the healthcare industry forward.
Listen to Wheel CRO, Vince Balsamo compare consumerization in banking to healthcare.
Consumerization of transportation: On-demand rides
Gone are the days of hailing a cab or looking at a paper bus schedule. Now, consumers can have car pick them up at their exact location, rent a car from a regular car owner, or buy a bus ticket online.
Transportation has seen one of the greatest disruptions from consumerization. The global ridesharing market is valued at $95 billion and is projected to more than double by 2026. Between the biggest players, Uber and Lyft, there are over 150 million monthly active users. To deliver rides to that many customers, there are 1.7 million drivers in the US.
The marketplace technology required to match users to drivers at an exact time and location has to be sophisticated. Consumers don’t like waiting.
Uber designed their marketplace and matching technology to reduce wait times and maximize earning time for their drivers. In the early days, a rider was immediately matched to the closest available driver which could lead to long wait times for others. Now they use batched matching — taking a few extra seconds to find a match based on all the drivers and riders in the area. Features like route-based and up-front pricing can help make the decision to book easier and more affordable for the rider. Meanwhile, driver promotions encourage drivers to meet rider demand during peak hours.
Lessons from transportation for consumer-centric healthcare
Once again, consumer demands for speed and convenience provoked a shift in how we approach transportation, and ultimately, conceived an entirely new ride-sharing industry.
In healthcare, the technology to match patients to the right clinician at the right time exists today. Patients can request an online appointment, get matched to the appropriate care provider within milliseconds, and then see that provider the same day — sometimes even the same hour.
However, price transparency has not yet become standard for healthcare services.
Up-front pricing was a key threshold for ride-sharing to achieve mass consumer adoption. To truly meet consumer needs, healthcare providers must prioritize straightforward, low-friction patient experiences while committing to cost transparency wherever possible.
Delivering Consumer-Centric Care Experiences
Consumerization can be defined as a trend that disrupts an industry by shifting products or services to focus on the end-users (consumers) and their needs.
It seems simple.
At the end of the day, consumers want the same things from healthcare that they want from their ride-share or mobile banking app — they want it to be easy.
But building a healthcare service that offers consumers the convenience, trust, and transparency they’ve come to expect from other industries demands a paradigm shift.
Healthcare providers must prioritize customer-centricity at every step: from finding care before a visit to accessing care in-the-moment and being empowered to make proactive healthcare choices in their daily lives. Until then, healthcare consumerization, and a dramatically healthier population, will remain just out of reach.
Wheel’s consumer-centric care platform empowers companies to deliver the virtual care experiences that today’s consumers are demanding.
To learn more contact us for a live demo.