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What Consumers Want from Healthcare—Q&A with Expert, Linda MacCracken


OSMA Thought Leadership

In advance of our 2021 Education Symposium, Navigating the Future of Healthcare, we’re highlighting some of the expert speakers who will be sharing insights at this event.

For this post, Linda MacCracken and Michael Dill from Accenture share their thoughts on what consumers—especially seniors—want from healthcare providers. More about this topic will be shared in a webinar at OSMA’s Education Symposium.

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Q: How has the healthcare landscape changed in the past several years for consumers, especially seniors?

A: Boomers are the rebel generation. The generation of Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep—they are aging into Medicare spenders. Seniors generally occupy more than 50 percent of hospital bed days¹ although, for some, their healthcare service habits do match the myth.

Many Boomers—18 percent—don't have a primary care provider, along with eight percent of the Silent Generation, so we know that seniors aren't fully committed to having or returning to a Primary Care Provider. These shifts upend post-COVID “return to care” standards.

Q: What has contributed to these changes?

A: The upside of the pandemic is the greater adoption of digital care. While pandemic restrictions shift, it is crucial to offer the right blend of virtual and traditional care and reclaim consumers in ways that suit them, while understanding how they perceive healthcare providers.

Q: What are consumers now expecting from healthcare providers?

A: Twenty six percent of seniors say they are willing to consider switching to providers who are more accessible, take good safety measures and offer effective in-person and virtual care. Now is the time to retain this important customer base with loyalty tactics—especially given cross-industry reports that companies with strong loyalty marketing grow revenues 2.5 times faster than competitors and generate 100-400 percent higher returns for shareholders (HBR). Here are practical steps you can take:

  • Address patient concerns in a personalized manner: Communicate specific actions taken to protect patients — such as offering separate entrances, allowing contactless payment and online paperwork, or even describing the advanced level of protective gear used by staff. When possible, physicians should deliver the message directly.

  • Meet people at the front door: Address unique patient needs and ease COVID-19 concerns before a patient steps foot into the office or enters a virtual waiting room. Embed new safety and wellness protocols and practices throughout every interaction, from finding a doctor to scheduling an appointment or completing registration in advance of a visit. In fact, the survey found that 74 percent of patients are now likely to use online chat or texting to provide check-in information before their appointment if such a service is available.

  • Enhance virtual care capabilities: Develop new models that use more virtual care, from bookings to meetings, so that those who remain wary of in-person care have more options. Patients have indicated a strong desire for this to happen. In a survey of 2,700 patients that Accenture conducted in May, 60 percent said that based on their experience using virtual care and devices during the pandemic, they want to use technology more for communicating with healthcare providers and managing their conditions in the future. 

  • Listen through social channels: Actively monitor local and national social channels to gather real-time insight into patient perceptions and community sentiment. This enables quick operational pivots to address consumer needs and measure progress along the way.

  • Re-visit seniors who haven’t been seen or checked: Using analytics and outbound outreach, check on the seniors who have not been seen, heard from or checked in. This could start with courtesy checks from the primary care provider and supported by population health and available contact center check ins. Key outreach can help turn the tide of the 25 percent ready to switch. Given the essential nature of physician relationships and personal health; expanding the practice and brand is necessary to retain trust.

  • Reach out to the dispossessed: Since 50 percent of the seniors who deferred care feel their conditions have worsened, access and continuity from care providers and health systems will be essential. Proactive engagement can turn the tide of the upcoming disease tsunami and drive growth.

  • Systematically plan the senior re-engagement: Retaining a customer is five times cheaper than acquiring a new customer; functional and meaningful loyalty opens a set of transactions and broader connections than mere interactions. Loyalty programs are expanding to support intent to engage, trust, commitment and brand evangelism. What is provided to seniors now will be telling in the times of less pandemic fear and uncertainty. This is an opportunity to confidently leverage channels to reach and engage seniors—again and again.


Speaker Sources:

¹The GAO of February 2020 shows that for 2017 nearly 54 percent of the hospital days are Medicare-driven. Age-related disease drives healthcare engagement for seniors.



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