Healthcare News & Insights

What the next generation of consumers expect from hospitals

Is your hospital prepared to meet the demands of the next generation of health consumers? A new survey has the answers. 

494371989As the industry continues to shift toward a more patient-centered approach to health care, facilities need to make sure they’re meeting patients’ evolving expectations.

Thankfully, there’s help for hospitals that want to figure out what patients want.

Consumer demands

A new survey from Strategy&, a management consulting company, polled over 2,000 consumers 18 years of age and older. The research gives providers insight into how patients are interacting with the current industry, and what they’re looking for from their healthcare providers.

One of the most telling data points from the survey was that although 66% of respondents said they are satisfied with some core aspects of their health care, a little less than half said they were satisfied overall with their experience.

Researchers believe this dissatisfaction comes from consumers’ expectations that the healthcare industry function the same way as other commercial industries, which already focus on digital outreach and meeting consumers’ needs. They also hypothesize that, until now, consumers have been conditioned to feel powerless about their health care.

As a result, consumers now expect more from providers, in terms of healthcare options, as ways to regain some control over their care.

Meeting expectations

However, the survey also reveals two areas for improvement where hospitals can begin satisfying consumers’ expectations  — price transparency and digital engagement.

About 80% of respondents said they would use digital services that help them manage their care, although only about a quarter have had the opportunity to do so. Similarly, over a quarter of respondents listed “digital” as their preferred engagement method.

This stat speaks to the importance of new electronic health record (EHR) technology, like patient portals, which allow patients to access or edit parts of their medical records. Not only can patient portals help reduce EHR errors, they also give patients a sense of connection to their care and provider.

If your hospital hasn’t taken steps to implement portals yet, now may be the time to look into available software from EHR vendors. Increasing engagement through patient portals is also important because patient engagement is a requirement for earning meaningful use incentives.

It’s reasonable to assume that the demand for digital tools and engagement will increase over the next few years, so facilities also may want to offer more opportunities for telehealth services going forward.

Value of care

Researchers also found that consumers younger than 65 rated the price and value of their care as the key factor for determining their satisfaction and loyalty.

Several payors and federal agencies have been developing payment databases to show consumers what providers are paid for services. But to effectively meet consumers’ transparency expectations, hospital leaders will want to ensure patients can find pricing information directly from the facility.

Recently, the American Hospital Association (AHA) released a tool kit that would help facilities evaluate their price transparency through simple exercises. Leaders should analyze their transparency and adjust policies to give patients easier access to pricing information.

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