Concerns over facility-based care and risk of exposure during the pandemic have led to a massive shift in consumerism—changing the methods in which individuals research, select and receive various forms of care. This shift was compounded by the fact that many healthcare consumers who are responsible for an increasing share of their healthcare costs are looking for convenience and affordability, just like other services they pay for, and that some healthcare settings may be better than others for themselves or their loved ones. In order for health systems to effectively respond, they must first know and understand the shifts that are causing consumers to “shop” differently for their care.
Five consumer priorities that are influencing providers include:
As consumers have grown more aware of their healthcare choices, they’ve become cognizant of the importance of clinical specialization. Patients value specialization and targeted quality indicators more than a facility’s general quality ranking, especially when making decisions for loved ones.1 It’s easier for consumers to grasp the value of a service specific certification or rating, as opposed to an overall score.
In a healthcare world that is often complicated, consumers value providers that can meet all of their needs. This can be a challenge in the current post-acute care landscape, which tends to be fragmented in many service areas, with a multitude of disparate providers and locations. Survey data shows that it is important to consumers that a post-acute facility offer convenience and access to additional services that may be needed across the duration of their care episode.
- Easing Care Transitions
Transitions between care facilities can be challenging for patients and family members, especially when conducted in a way that is inefficient, inconvenient or lacking in transparency. Given pressures from payors and strains on bed capacity, it’s not uncommon for healthcare organizations to struggle in this area, which can have a serious impact on outcomes and satisfaction.
Leaders that invest in EHR interoperability, patient portals and other apps that integrate with partners and keep patients and loved ones aware of changes in status and needs, can help a patient’s loved one play a role in their outcomes.
- Physician Recommendations
Healthcare consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips, but not all of it is reliable. That’s why patients and their loved ones still place significant value on recommendations from their physicians. Physician referrals are more important than any other source of referral or rating for consumers who are seeking short-term post-acute care for themselves or loved ones.1 Strong clinical liaisons and administrators play a key role in collaborating with physicians and educating them about the quality-of-care provided in a post-acute facility.
- Balancing Cost and Quality
As a result of regulatory shifts and the onset of high-deductible health plans, consumers are more aware than ever of the cost of care. When making decisions for themselves, consumers seeking post-acute care increasingly rank affordability over other criteria.1 However, when shopping for care for their loved ones, the approach changes. In this case, quality is more important to consumers than cost—they’re willing to spend more on care when they can be assured that a provider has a reputation for consistent, high-quality outcomes.1
A health system’s ability to offer a level of service that includes hospital-level infection prevention and quality control is a significant differentiator that can support high-quality post-acute care.
Each of these shifts has pushed health systems to reevaluate their approach to care delivery, efficiency and quality. By understanding the above five consumerism shifts, a hospital will be equipped to adjust their offering to meet the current and future needs of their patient population.
- What Consumers Want: Understanding Post-Acute Patients and Families. Advisory Board Post-Acute Care Collaborative, 2016, https://www.advisory.com/en/topics/post-acute-care/2016/09/what-consumers-want-from-post-acute-care