Consumer loyalty to healthcare providers is not what it used to be. The realities of the new healthcare market—consumers with high passion for healthcare providers, the rise of digital health disruptors and providers with lagging loyalty metrics—make providers vulnerable to patients switching to competitors. Something must change.So how can healthcare providers reset the loyalty landscape? They can take a page from competitive consumer industries with experience having to earn their customers’ loyalty. By adopting patient engagement practices from such consumer industries, healthcare providers can respond to this market disruption. What’s more, they can keep the patients they have—and earn new ones.
Three healthcare market trends are reshaping consumers’ loyalty to their healthcare providers:
1. Healthcare consumers have passion—but that’s not loyalty.
Healthcare evokes more consumer passion than any other industry, according to Accenture’s 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Research. Eighteen percent of healthcare consumers say they are passionate about the industry, followed by consumer electronics (16 percent) and hotels and lodging (15 percent).
However, high passion is not a substitute for loyalty. In fact, it often generates less loyalty. This is a pattern in competitive consumer industries where high passion has translated into higher consumer expectations that influence people’s willingness to switch to get what they want.
Passion and switching rates by industry: Consumers have high passion for healthcare providers and high rates of switching
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2. Switching is hard—but made easier with digital health.
Many healthcare consumers stay with their providers because they think it would be hard to leave, not because they are loyal. In fact, 40 percent of healthcare consumers say that switching providers is a hassle, second only to gas and electric, per Accenture’s 2014 Global Consumer Pulse Research.
As digital health experiences and capabilities become more prevalent, it will become easier for patients to switch providers and flee to other doctors or hospitals in even greater numbers. Healthcare providers need to prepare now to combat this disruption and start implementing cross-industry loyalty strategies to earn their patients’ loyalty.
Across industries, consumer loyalty is a function of how easy or difficult it is for consumers to switch.VIEW CHART [PDF]
Healthcare providers can take advantage of disruptive forces changing consumer relationships. Those who fail to transform these relationships should prepare for patients to walk out the door—straight to the competition.The choice is clear. By adopting patient engagement practices from highly competitive industries that have always had to work hard to keep customers loyal, healthcare providers can earn consumers’ loyalty in entirely new ways.
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