Changes in Health Sector Consumer Behaviour Post COVID-19October 22, 2021
At the onset of COVID-19, the healthcare sector experienced a turmoil of changes. On one hand, it was the most involved member of corona warriors, while on the other hand, it had to redefine its protocols to meet the needs of its patients. Post the big turmoil, many of these changes became a norm of the newly defined hospital management system.
People expressed fear and reluctance in visiting healthcare centres and their expectations with respect to their safety at the centre also increased. As a result, a new set of problems and opportunities got listed for healthcare management. It became essential for healthcare centres to market themselves as ‘ COVID-19 safe’ and parallelly meet the newly developed patient’s demands and expectations.
As per a survey conducted by Deloitte on 419 consumers, the following results were derived:
Because people could not overrule the need and consumption of medical help, they redefined their set of demands and expectations from the health service providers.
- COVID-19 safe environment has become a matter of prime concern. Every staff inside healthcare centre is expected to make use of PPE kit and disposable gloves and masks, sanitisation chambers and thermal screening need to be at every entry point, regular disinfection of frequently touched or exposed surfaces should be done and also there should be separate building or department for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.
- Because of the change in the sentiments of the consumers, patients have started exploring alternate means to avail healthcare facilities at home. As a result, there has been an enormous increase of 70-80% in home care diagnostics, consultation, in-patient care and day-care services.
- The rise in in-home medical facilities resulted in the increased demand for virtual hospital management solutions. The telemedicine facility has risen from 21% to 44%. But still there are more than 50% of the patients who believe that virtual medical examinations and solutions are not purely effective.
As a result, healthcare management needs to have a balanced approach in dealing with both sorts of consumers. Hospitals and healthcare centres who make general medical assistance available online or on call have won the hearts of millions. General medicine, nutritional advice, pediatrics, gastro and pain management are few areas where the demand of patients on virtual platforms is on the rise.
People’s demand for a home collection of samples increased by 74%. Patients preferred those diagnostic centres who had reliable potential, along with a wide network across geographies, to collect samples and deliver reports.
- Another area which experienced a change in demand of patients is post-procedure care. The well-wishers of patients expect hospitals to provide the PPE enabled hospital staff for in-home care, post any operation until the recovery period under supervision gets over.
- Not only do patients expect home-based care accessible to them with ease, they want this service at discounted rates too. They are even willing to buy subscriptions at discounted prices for different in-home services like:
- Home health care sessions
- Home sample collection
- Home delivery of medical supplies
Catalysed by the change in patient’s behaviour, health centres are continuing to face multiple problems and likelihood of opportunities glued to these problems as mentioned below:
|Short-term losses on providing virtual medical assistance at discounted rates.||Opportunity to come up with personalized patient engagement marketing strategies.|
|Health centres with scarcity of staff and funds are not able to meet the demand for in-home care.||Home care attributes can be made a pre-defined part of the surgical procedure package and be charged for. It can also be included as part of health-insurance coverage.|
|Home lab sample collection is not practical across all areas.||For this, the health centres can join hands with diagnostic players who guarantee last mile connectivity to multiple geographies. As a result, the capabilities get scaled-up.|
|Patients are not willing to pay (WTP) the fee amount equal to in-person consultation for telemedicine service.||Charging the patients as per their WTP helps establish long-term consumer relationships.|
|The sudden surge in non-traditional means of medication gave rise to the fear of proper data management.||Hospital management software developers can market themselves as the complete hospital management solution provider.|
Considering the above set of problems and their respective opportunities, here are few tips or set of advice for healthcare centres to stay ahead of their competitors in meeting the expectation of their patients:
- Implement EHR or Electronic health records system to make the personal health records accessible to the patients anytime from anywhere. Such records should be easy to download and print.
- Make use of hospital management software solutions for ease of scheduling and appointment reminders.
- Allow the patients to have remote virtual meet with their physicians via tele-health or e-visit.
- 24*7 communication assistance should be made available.
- Ease of digital payment system.
- Health centres should invest in promoting experience management culture across the organisation with the use of the right digital tools and techniques.
- Adopt digitalisation but still adopt the mode of communication that is easy to comprehend on the part of the patient and their well-wishers.
- Welcome feedback and queries from patients and their relatives. Avoid any escalation in formal complaints as it might damage the reputation of the health centre.
- Train your staff completely with respect to technology use and hospitality management. The staff of the healthcare facility should always be empathetic and understanding towards the patient.
The above discussed set of changing consumer expectations and the increase in non-traditional form of hospital management has given birth to several innovative means of healthcare management.
The health centre clinics/players who foresee these trends as the new mandate are already addressing the patient needs with tech-driven solutions. Hospital management software has become a new norm being practised by all smart players. So, if you have not yet benefited yourself with virtual dominance, the time is now. Try the digital hospital management software by SoftClinic to best fit your needs and demand of your patients.