The health care landscape is quickly and dramatically changing. In my last post–the first of my three-part series on consumerism–we talked about this change and how critical it will be to design a consumer facing health care strategy in the new environment.

As I explained, the first step in plan development is taking an inventory of your current services, determining where you would like to expand or grow your consumer base and evaluating your capacity to do so. The second step, which I believe is the most critical, is all about your customer – getting to know who they are, what they want and what matters most to them. This is really the key to success.

But how do you achieve this?

Today’s health care consumer is not the same as in previous generations. In the past, we would focus on one core customer—the critically ill. Now, what people want, need and are willing to pay for in terms of care and services depends on age, health and family needs, priorities and preferences. We can no longer design health care services with one consumer in mind. In order to develop a successful consumer facing plan, you need to know and understand the four types of health care consumers:

  • Young invincibles: healthy, active community members who are health conscious but are not big users of health services
  • Young families: healthy young parents with various health needs for a range of ages
  • Healthy adults: established community members who lead active lifestyles but may opt for preventative and elective care and services
  • Chronically ill: individuals with chronic diseases that require specialty care and resources


Next, ask the right questions:

  • How can I anticipate and address the SPECIFIC needs of each of these four core customer groups?
  • How do these groups traditionally show up in our community? What do I anecdotally know about them and is there historical data I can review to help me understand their engagement patterns?
  • How am I going to get them them what they need, where they need it and when they need it at a reasonable cost, at a high level of quality and accessibility?


And if you’re not doing so already, you will want to engage (full tilt) with a database or Customer Relationship Management system to help you better understand your consumers and track and trend their behavior. Your ability to apply analytics and deploy data in your decision making will be critical to your success.

Once you have answered these questions, you should be armed with the information you need to determine the value you can deliver. Here, value can be defined as the ability to provide access to affordable high-quality care and services. Just remember: when it comes to health care and services, value means something different to a 27-year old versus a 50-year old.

At the end of the day, value, and our ability to create it, is the end goal.  If we are to provide our consumers with services that they deem to be of value, we will be well on our way to keep them coming back for more. And once you have answered the value proposition, you will be one step closer to fully realizing consumerism in your organization.


Next: In the third of this three-part series, I will offer five tips to ensure success in implementing a consumerism plan in your organization.

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