Growing expectations, competition stymying push toward consumerism

Hospitals and health systems are failing to commit fully to consumer-centered care.

Hospitals and health systems that launched or expanded their digital health capabilities at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are failing to fully commit to the deliver care when, where, and how patients want to receive it.

According to a news release, Kaufman Hall’s 2021 Healthcare Consumerism Survey found that only 7 percent of participating performed in the first tier of the Kaufman Hall Healthcare Consumerism Index which shows a dedicated focus and resources for building consumer-centric infrastructure. The majority (46 percent) of respondents say they’re in tier two, which indicates a thoughtful approach to becoming more consumer-centric, investing in infrastructure and initiatives that are being expanded systemwide. The next largest group of respondents fell into tier three (39 percent) where they have begun to target specific consumer-oriented strategies but are not yet building an infrastructure.

Only 7 percent were left in tier four which indicates they’ve not been working on consumer-oriented strategies, the release says.

While these organizations have expanded their basic consumer-focused services since 2019, experts say the more focus and investment is needed to compete with heightened consumer expectations, competitors, and a growing list of retail and tech companies entering the space, according to the release.

“While hospitals and health systems rallied to meet the challenges of the pandemic in 2020 with new virtual care options, momentum has stalled,” Kaufman Hall Managing Director Paul Crnkovich, says in the release. “Today’s healthcare consumer is digitally savvy, and new competitors are offering innovative alternatives to hospitals and health systems, especially in primary care. Winning over consumers requires regaining momentum—and pushing beyond virtual visits and truly prioritizing digital capabilities that enhance the consumer experience.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Competitive threats from health insurance, retail, and tech companies are a growing concern to hospitals and health systems with 76 percent of respondents identifying UnitedHealth/Optum as a strong or extreme competitive threat
  • 90 percent of respondents offer telehealth services and 73 percent provide walk-in clinics, but only 37 percent offer in-home monitoring and only 22 percent offer home-based primary care
  • 66 percent of organizations place a high or extreme priority on expanding digital capabilities and physical facilities, but only 11 percent are best-in-class for providing those services
  • Two-thirds of respondents say they are somewhat or moderately concerned about volume recovery while only 12 percent say they are very or extremely concerned about volume recovery
  • The most common price transparency tools for patients are online price estimators and online for receiving out-of-pocket cost estimates (both with 63 percent adoption), followed by staff answering questions in person (49 percent), and offering out-of-price guarantees for certain services (23 percent)