The patient as consumer: why patient-centric healthcare drives new tech and care delivery channels.

By Tristan Morris


In recent years, the impact of digital within the healthcare industry has been inescapable. Patients are being offered the ability to take control of their own health, using new technologies to better understand current and future conditions, and take on preventative measures as well as treatments when it comes to their health. Easier access to vital information and digital innovations that allow for greater flexibility mean that patients have the luxury of choice when it comes to healthcare devices, treatments and services – meaning that healthcare brands and organisations are rapidly taking on a more consumer-centric model when it comes to reaching new audiences. 

As patients become more involved in their own healthcare, brands need to evolve their strategies to follow. Decision-making is more in the hands of patients than ever, and if brands aren’t providing their audience with the right content and information, they risk losing out. The key to evolving with the healthcare landscape is tech – patients (and consumers) value accurate information, delivered quickly, at optimal cost, quality and convenience. The traditional sales model doesn’t necessarily support this, but a tech-first offering allows brands to create a sophisticated, personalised service that appeals to this audience.

How healthcare is becoming more patient-centric

We’re already seeing the impact of the patient-consumer shift on healthcare organisations and brands. As patients become more engaged with their own health, they’re driving new business models that allow for new products, services and delivery systems to appear on the market. Technologies that allow for faster, more convenient treatments and services are booming, bolstered by the retail and wellness sectors, as well as telecommunications and data innovations. 

With this new technology, patients are seeking to manage their health effectively – not just through managing existing conditions, but taking on preventative measures like studying family histories, opting for advanced genetic testing, and evaluating their personal health with the help of ever-updating wearables and apps. Data is key – now that patients can access their data and utilise it as they see fit, they’re no longer recipients of healthcare, but instead active participants in their own wellbeing.

A new patient-centric model is a driver for new technologies

With so much data at their fingertips, not to mention having the online tools and resources available to research healthcare offerings, patients are craving more transparent interactions with HCPs and brands. In addition to online advice, patients are increasingly engaging with social media to interact with peers who have similar needs, and connect with a wider audience that resonates – for example communities of patients suffering the same chronic illnesses, or groups dedicated to researching and adopting preventative healthcare measures. 

For this reason, healthcare professionals are moving away from the traditional model, interacting with patients in a way that more closely resembles an advisor. With patients for the most part armed with as much information as they can get their hands on, in recent years HCPs find themselves confirming diagnoses as opposed to uncovering them, and with online tools rapidly becoming more sophisticated, this is likely to not only continue but ultimately take over. 

Emerging tech and advances in wearables like smart watches are enabling patients the ability to self assess – with a great deal of the population now able to take their pulse via an app, we’re seeing attitudes shift away from the doctor’s office and towards a more patient-centric model.

Why brands should care

If you’re trying to reach the modern patient, you need to be taking into account the way that they connect with healthcare organisations. The digital revolution is not just upon us – it’s rapidly shifting us into a brand new understanding of the way that the patient behaves. Without considering the change of patient to consumer, you risk not only losing out on a massive percentage of your audience, but also falling behind the new brands that are launching into the market. Tech advances mean that we can gain better insights, provide more useful, relevant information when it counts, and reach patients in a more instant, personal way. 

With mass distribution of health tech becoming more and more cost-effective, consumers are more connected, and knowledgeable, than ever. Brands should take advantage of this in order to improve patient engagement, spread accurate and trustworthy information about their product or service, and connect with their patient base. These advancements can be seen a s a negative by brands wanting to defend their place in the market, but these healthcare organisations are missing out on the potential benefits of treating the patient as consumer. 

The data available to us through these new technologies allows us to streamline and simplify the diagnosis process – with patients more aware than ever on the impact of their choices on their personal health and wellbeing, we’re able to incentivise them to engage with their own health in a way that allows for better transparency between the patient and the healthcare provider. For brands, it means that we’re able to provide up-to-date information, insights and advice to a much wider audience, delivered in a way that taps into patient needs. With patients pre-armed with the knowledge that they need, it’s up to brands not to rely on an old-fashioned sales model, but instead to develop and grow in response to demand.

How digitally mature is your organisation’s current strategy?

As the online world continues to evolve and grow, it’s easy for healthcare businesses to find themselves struggling to catch up with digital marketing trends. Partnering with a digital content marketing specialist like BBI Health can help. We work with healthcare organisations to help them achieve their digital and performance goals. Contact us today to chat through how we can work together.