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March 31, 2021
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David Burda
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Consumerism COVID-19 Economics Outcomes
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COVID, Convenience and Consumerism

I’ll say it again. I’ll probably keep saying it because I think I’m right. One of the silver linings from this whole COVID thing will be the boost that it gave to healthcare consumerism. 

The latest piece of evidence is the new 2021 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report from NRC Health, the Lincoln, Neb.-based patient satisfaction measurement firm. You can download the 16-page report here. The report is based on the latest patient survey data in NRC’s database from more than 580 healthcare organizations. 

What’s most striking from the report and what many incumbent provider organizations have feared is patients’ declining loyalty to a healthcare brand. 

In 2020, some 36 percent of the patients in NRC’s database said they have no brand preference. That’s up from 31 percent in 2018.  In-other-words, more than a third of patients today really don’t care where they get their care. 

Further:

  • 45 percent said they’ve already changed their healthcare brand preference because of COVID-19
  • 62 percent said they expect to change their healthcare brand preference after the pandemic 

It’s all about convenience:

  • 52 percent cited convenience as the second-most important factor in choosing a healthcare brand (the most important factor was insurance coverage)
  • 49 percent said having convenient locations is the most important factor in choosing where to go for their care

“Unsettling as it has been, COVID-19 has done little to alter this trajectory toward consumerism,” the report said. “If anything, the pandemic has accelerated it.”

My hunch is, how fast and easy it was to get a COVID test, how fast and easy it was to get COVID test results and how fast and easy it was to see a clinician virtually because of COVID are all shaping what patients think of their providers. Now it’s how fast and easy it is to schedule an appointment to get a COVID vaccine and how fast and easy it is to actually get the vaccine.  

When faced with the potential of contracting a deadly virus, a lot of people suddenly figured out that they have choices when things aren’t working the way they want. If you’re an incumbent healthcare provider, and you haven’t figure this out, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise when the pandemic ends. 

Don’t think just because you have telehealth capabilities now, you’re going to be fine. Only 27 percent of the patients in NRC’s database said they consider telehealth a “potential alternative for future visits.”

If you want to learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is driving healthcare consumerism, please read the following posts on 4sighthealth.com:  

Thanks for reading this post.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay alive. The vaccine is coming. Really. Eventually. 

About the Authors

David Burda

Dave is 4sight Health’s biggest news junkie, resident journalist and healthcare historian. He began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes his own column, “Burda on Health,” for us, contributes weekly blog posts, and manages our weekly e-newsletter and weekly podcast, 4sight Friday and 4sight Roundup.

Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers—patients—are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personal experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 35 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 35 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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