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Patient-Centered Healthcare: Lessons from Retail

Every year, senior hospital executives go through the process of determining what your system will look like in the next five to 10 years. In the last 12-months, many of these strategy sessions have incorporated customer experience, patient-centered care, and population health conversations, which all fall within the general topic of ‘Consumer-Centric Healthcare.’

The term to describe the patient’s involvement in their healthcare choices and experiences has changed over time, with labels such as Retail Healthcare, Consumer-Driven Healthcare, and Patient-Centered Healthcare. Regardless of the name you use, the underlying goal stays the same: hospital systems are looking for ways that they can provide a positive and rewarding patient-consumer experience at every level of care, design, and implementation and across all service lines.

The first step in formulating and executing a consumer-centric healthcare plan begins by recognizing your patients as consumers and your need to engage with them as such. In a JLL white paper on bricks & mortar expansion ideas for hospitals, they promote that one of the best ways to do this is to look at your patient-consumer strategy with the same approach that retailers use.

The main lesson from retail, which should be the starting point for hospital systems, is gaining an understanding of the different patient-consumer segments within your service areas. The most successful retailers devote a lot of resources to understanding their consumer’s demographic and psychographic makeup. The result is an astonishingly accurate customer profile, which guides the retailer toward potential expansion markets, and provides the ability to evaluate store profitability, predict revenue, evaluate competition and analyze changing consumer trends. This data and market segmentation gives management the ability to strategically focus their resources on select and targeted initiatives.

The same lesson on segmentation should also apply to healthcare. Senior hospital executives will have a better understanding of their hospital's service lines and ambulatory businesses if they look at the larger retail landscape and ask themselves some questions. These might include:

  • What comparisons can we draw between how our patients choose their healthcare services and how they make their retail purchases?
  • Is there a retailer that has a similar consumer profile to ours?
  • What retailers have seen the greatest success in our market and are there any similarities between their customers and ours?
  • How do our patient-consumers differ in demographics and psychographics to our main competitors?

The answer to these questions will shed light on how best to reach and influence your patients.