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February 13, 2020
David Burda
Consumerism Innovation System Dynamics

Not on the Same Page

Well, maybe I jumped the gun and gave the healthcare industry too much credit for finally recognizing that its future depends on redefining patients as customers and making them their raison d’etre. Some new information has come to light that suggests that most industry incumbents are as clueless as ever.

That new information comes from the 10th annual Pulse Report released by Change Healthcare and the Healthcare Executive Group. The 41- page report is based on a survey of 445 senior-level healthcare executives. 

Thirty percent of the survey respondents worked at provider organizations like hospitals, integrated delivery networks and medical practices, while 20 percent did what they do at payer organizations like commercial health plans. Twenty-four percent of the respondents had C-suite titles.

The survey asked the respondents where their respective organizations were on their journey in their response to the rise of healthcare consumerism. Here’s what they said:

  • 24 percent of the payer execs said their organizations have a full “consumer-centric strategy” in place, which the survey defined as having “fully implemented tools and technologies to achieve consumer-specific outcomes” and as having “effectively measured improvements related to these efforts.” Thirty-three percent of payer execs described their consumer-centric strategy as “intermediate” with 43 percent calling their strategy “nascent” and none of them reporting having no formal strategy at all.
  • 18 percent of provider execs said their organizations have a full consumer-centric strategy in place with 36 percent describing their status as “intermediate,” 34 percent calling their status “nascent” and, get this, 14 percent, acknowledging that their organizations have no formal consumer-centric strategy in place now. 

Not only are payers and providers not on the same page when it comes to healthcare consumerism, a lot of them clearly on not on the same page as their enrollees and patients, collectively known as their customers. You know, customers. Those people who use your services and pay your bills.

So what do your customers want?

Public Agenda, the New York-based research firm, surveyed a representative sample of 1,020 adults in late December and asked them. Public Agenda released the survey results earlier this month, and you can find them here

  • 80 percent said it was “very important” to make healthcare services more affordable for ordinary Americans
  • 62 percent said they want the healthcare system in the U.S. either redesigned completely or to undergo major changes to improve it 
  • 46 percent said they would support a market-based healthcare reform plan that would include such tenets as tax incentives for health savings accounts, price transparency from hospitals and doctors and insurance plan deregulation to spark new health plan models 

Your customers will tell you what they want from your hospital, health system, medical group or health plan. You just have to listen to them. 

If you didn’t read this piece that I wrote last month, “A Sign That Health System Leaders Are Starting to Take Their Customers Seriously,” don’t bother. I was wrong.

Thanks for reading anyway.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. 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 personnel 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 40 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 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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