There are many changes driving the healthcare marketplace toward a model of consumerism. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will enable Health Insurance Exchanges from which tens of millions of previously uninsured consumers will shop for coverage. Many employers will elect to shift the responsibility and much of the cost burden of selecting insurance coverage to employees, resulting in millions more consumers shopping for health insurance on the Exchanges. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will be reimbursed through a combination of clinical and patient experience measures. Moreover, they will be expected to achieve low readmission rates for key health issues that are partially contingent upon patient behavior (e.g., medication adherence) .
Healthcare organizations must evolve with this shift to consumerism, designing products, services, and experiences that deliver against patient needs and expectations. “One size fits all” approaches to patient education and consumer advertising, with a singular message and shotgun delivery to a target population, have limited effect. All consumers are not alike– even if they share a common health condition– and are motivated by different things. Successfully driving behavior change requires a deep understanding of the healthcare consumer and how to best influence their choices. Traditional market research, both qualitative (focus groups) and quantitative (surveys), is a step in the right direction. However, these methods may only provide limited insight if all consumer participants are considered a uniform population with aggregated perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes.