Consumerism in Healthcare: What ASC’s Need to Know
The ASC market is expected to grow at a 4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017 to 2027, according to Future Market Insights, with multispecialty ASC’s expected to dominate reaching $76.8 billion over the next decade. As the industry moves toward value-based care, patients are increasingly interested in lower priced settings such as outpatient surgery and ASC’s which are disrupting traditional care models.
However, ASC’s are in a delicate place in terms of meeting patient’s ever-increasing and rapidly changing expectations. Consumerism in healthcare has been an ongoing complex study which is a challenge even for ASC’s.
ASC’s have a lot to learn from customer-centric business models implemented within other industries like retail and tech. Here are just a few of the things that ASC’s need to learn in order to adapt to the increasing consumerism trend:
The four pillars of consumerism: access, experience, pricing, and infrastructure
Kaufman Hall’s 2019 Healthcare Consumerism Index reveals the challenges that legacy healthcare providers face in adapting to the ever-rising bar of consumer needs and expectations.
Here are some key takeaways from their report:
- Only 8% of hospitals and health systems demonstrate strong consumer-centric performance
- A staggering 68% of organizations either have not begun (29%), or are in the very early stages of their consumerism efforts (39%)
For ASC’s and the healthcare industry as a whole to catch-up in an online, convenience-obsessed, and increasingly consumer-focused world, they would need to excel in the four pillars of consumerism.
Access: Today’s consumers increasingly demand quick and easy access to any and all services through a variety of access points—whether physical or virtual—with digital tools to add convenience.
- More than half of respondents offer urgent or ambulatory care centers, but only a third offer widespread, basic online scheduling for existing patients.
Experience: Enhancing the consumer experience has a lot to do with patient communication. Some strategies include: automated appointment reminders, centralized call routing, electronic messaging between patients and providers, consumer-friendly billing and payment options.
- Few offer real-time scheduling and communications necessary to keep pace with today’s digitally connected consumers.
Pricing: A recent Kaufman Hall survey of how US consumers find and select providers and services found that more than a third research costs in selecting where to go for comparable services. As expectations rise and federal and state laws move toward requiring greater transparency, healthcare providers must implement effective pricing strategies and tools to communicate price estimates to consumers conveniently and accurately.
- Only few of healthcare providers offer true price transparency.
Infrastructure: Overall efforts to build an infrastructure of consumer insights and analytics continue to be sub-optimal relative to its critical importance for competing effectively in the marketplace
- More than half of hospitals and health systems have developed consumer-centric missions and strategies, but a majority have not yet built infrastructures needed to support such objectives.
Patients are taking an increasingly active role in their healthcare
The rise in healthcare consumerism is driven by a lot of factors, one of which is patients having greater financial responsibility (higher co-pay, deductibles, and overall costs). With such high costs, patients tend to “shop” for surgical options.
Patients’ expectations are also changing, driven by their experiences from other industries like airlines and retail. Patients demand improved services and enhanced experiences when engaging with providers and health systems.
As patients are faced with increased treatment choices, care options, and cost concerns, they are now becoming highly active in their healthcare choices.
Patients are increasingly prepared to interact as consumers rather than as passive patients. As consumers, patients want to be in control of the services that they would want to afford. They want to be involved and informed of every step that will be made throughout their healthcare experience.
ASC’s have long led the way in cost-effective and quality care, serving as role models for other providers trying to determine how best to navigate today's evolving landscape that rewards quality over quantity. The number of procedures performed in ASC’s has continually been on the rise, with surgery centers now performing more than 20 million surgeries annually. ASC’s still have a long way to go to be on par with other industries in meeting, or exceeding, a patient’s expectations. Now is the time to ensure that your ASC is on the right track and not lagging in the consumerism trend.