Become a seniors loyalty leader in healthcare
February 9, 2021
Beware the myth of seniors as compliant health consumers—"old-timers” who are averse to technology. Another common misconception is that all or most seniors will stay loyal to their physician, regardless. Our recent consumer survey flips that myth right on its head. Post-COVID, expectations could shift for the return-to-care experience, even among long-term loyalists. Seniors are demonstrating that providers and payers alike need to pivot and gain their loyalty through effective relationship building and hybrid in-person and virtual care.
Boomers are the rebel generation. The generation of Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep—they are aging into Medicare spenders. Seniors generally occupy over 50 percent of hospital bed days¹ although, for some, their healthcare service habits do match the myth. Many Boomers—18 percent—don't have a primary care provider, along with eight percent of the Silent Generation, so we know that seniors aren't fully committed to having or returning to a Primary Care Provider. These shifts upend post-COVID “return to care” standards.
Seniors report that their deferred healthcare is due to provider scheduling cancellations, postponed appointments and/or safety concerns. Almost 18 million seniors² have fallen through the resulting cracks. Half of those think their health condition has worsened, potentially leading to a tsunami of future demand.
The upside of the pandemic is the greater adoption of digital care. While pandemic restrictions shift, it is crucial to offer the right blend of virtual and traditional care and reclaim consumers in ways that suit them, while understanding how they perceive healthcare providers.
The senior consumer base is changing—these increasingly home-based consumers are hungry for virtual care. Despite 10 percent of seniors having already had a virtual visit, four times as many are ready for telehealth in the future. Not many are being given the option, though—approximately two in three seniors say they have not been offered a virtual consultation—and they really are serious about safety, even post-COVID.
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Twenty six percent of seniors say they are willing to consider switching to providers who are more accessible, take good safety measures and offer effective in-person and virtual care. Now is the time to retain this important customer base with loyalty tactics—especially given cross-industry reports that companies with strong loyalty marketing grow revenues 2.5 times faster than competitors and generate 100-400 percent higher returns for shareholders (HBR). Here are three practical steps you can take:
Reinventing healthcare to offer a blend of digital, telephonic and in-person care on personalized terms—in a language seniors understand—is the new must-do. Defending your business against the defection of the 25 percent (and potentially winning other seniors) would enable a smooth return to care. It's a great time to become a seniors loyalty leader, retain (and grow) a crucial customer base.
¹The GAO of February 2020 shows that for 2017 nearly 54 percent of the hospital days are Medicare-driven. Age-related disease drives healthcare engagement for seniors.;