Would you trust a retail store, such as CVS or Walgreens, with facilitating your healthcare appointment?
According to our recent survey of 1,016 healthcare consumers, over 60% of respondents would. In the aftermath of COVID-19, when telehealth use skyrocketed and demand for more urgent care options increased, it isn’t so surprising that consumers have gotten more comfortable with newer healthcare delivery models. The disruptors to the traditional care model are responding to this shift in attitude as well, with CVS announcing recently that they are planning new store formats for primary care services and enhanced HealthHUB sites for everyday health needs and Amazon launching a subscription-based caregiving support service for elderly loved ones. These convenient and cost-effective options present the opportunity to provide a better patient experience than traditional care models have.
But what does this mean for incumbent providers?
Our research has determined that loyalty has become the must-win battle of health consumerism. There are three reasons why this has come to be:
- Barriers to competition are falling, such as retail locations offering healthcare services.
- Barriers to losing customers are falling, due to easier access to digital health records.
- Price-sensitivity and consumer expectations are rising, due to higher out-of-pocket costs that only continue to grow each year.
Though patients haven’t wavered in their loyalty to their own doctors, the healthcare networks that stand behind them don’t enjoy the same relationship. Without brand-level loyalty, provider organizations will be more prone to shifts in the marketplace, whether that’s employee attrition or consumer sentiment.
How to Gain Patient Loyalty
Healthcare providers need to build richer connections with patients in moments of urgent need and maintain them during periods of wellness. Brands that provide convenient, affordable, empathetic, and effective care when it matters can maintain patients’ loyalty through engagement.
This has traditionally been difficult for providers, who focused more on the technical aspects of care (diagnosis and treatment) at the expense of customer experience (convenience, low cost, and friendliness). All the aspects that make up a great customer experience in healthcare range from technological convenience, such as expanded access to telehealth appointments, to providing more proactive, detailed, and personalized medication information in between appointments. Of course, it’s better to address chest pain before a patient has a full-blown heart attack, and proactively addressing issues like these in-between episodes of care allows for better wellness outcomes for the consumer and better business outcomes for the provider.
In the aftermath of factors that have impacted the healthcare system, from staffing shortages to supply chain issues to the general pandemic exhaustion that we all seem to be experiencing, improving the patient experience at every pain point will help to further boost the public’s perception of healthcare, which has already increased since the pandemic’s start due to heroic acts from doctors and nurses and a historic vaccine rollout.
In our recent report, we looked at some of the leading providers who are reimagining patient loyalty programs through a deeper sense of engagement. By establishing system values before presenting doctors, provider systems have the chance to frame the patient-doctor relationship as a single step on the treatment journey with the system.
To get a better sense of how provider systems are drawing on membership models to build better connected patient experiences and stronger patient loyalty programs, download our report, Loyalty in Healthcare: Creating Connected Membership.