I’ve identified 6 macro behavior trends in America that are shaping the way Americans are interfacing with healthcare. Another way of looking at it is that American healthcare behaviors fall into 6 categories.
1. CONSUMERS FEELING CLEVER-ER
Tech enabled: consumers becoming more aware/knowledgeable/involved in healthcare and feeling more clever/empowered/confident to make trade-offs:
- Moms as “CEO of Family” confidently researching/self-diagnosing family illnesses online -> doctor’s mystique/status in decline.
- Surge in cheaper brands and generic options -> growth in pill identification Apps.
- Cutting out the middle-man by buying drugs direct online -> misusing meds.
- Spreading out and skipping treatments and doctor’s visits -> strain on healthcare providers who have to catch-up/make-up.
- Splitting pills and spreading out pill-taking to “stretch” drugs -> new strains of resistant viruses.
- Opting for less expensive OTC, non-medical and alternative/holistic/new-age remedies.
- Pill hoarding for emergency stash and/or avoid a doctor’s visit –> misusing meds.
2. CONSUMERS SEEKING CONTROL
Science advances enable: consumers taking control/ownership of medical destinies, med histories, MD choices, flexi-medical benefits, treatments:
- Thwarting predispositions with DNA/Genome Maps -> personalized preventative health strategies .
- Preventative measures -> surge in foods, vitamins, routines, lifestyles and vaccines with promises.
- Self-monitoring bodies with diagnostics/devices (pulse, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, plaque, fertility) -> culture of hypochondriacs.
- Demand 24/7 real-time doctor health surveillance -> remote patient monitoring systems
- Not relying on self control to administer drugs -> implanting drug delivery devices.
3. CONSUMERS SEEKING CONNECTIVITY
Tech and social-media-enable: consumers connecting with HCPs and peers (online, video, text, chat phone Apps) for info/collective knowledge/support that’s lacking in lonely modern life.
- Topics once taboo are discussed openly in anonymous cyberspace -> new pathologies emerging.
- Real-time reviews (Tweets, blogs, Yelp-like posts) of doctors, hospitals, drugs -> cull choices.
- E-mail consultations are preferred method to access healthcare -> personal connection with doctors/specialists all over globe.
- First-hand, tried-tested tips/insights considered more reliable -> patient-to-patient platforms/communities strengthening.
- Physician Extenders” extending doctors’ office services to create “medical homes” -> more personal/connected caregiving.
4. CONSUMERS CONVENIENCE CRAZED
Time starved multi-tasking on-demand consumers seeking quicker/more convenient (24/7) access to HCPs outside traditional venues and hours:
- Tech enables instant gratification – > surge in online, video, text, chat and phone Apps.
- Seeking medical advice from pharmacists in local convenience stores -> “Retail Health” grew 20x since 2005
- Improving skills/profiles of pharmacists/pharmacy departments -> expanding scope of healthcare to include chronic diseases.
- Lifestyles so busy not enough time to leave home -> house calls up +25% in 2009.
- Hospitals opening “satellite clinics” to expand reach -> “drive thru” medical attention.
- On horizon: “medicalbots” – non-human intelligence agents that dispense medical care 24/7.
5. CONSUMERS HYPER CONSCIENTIOUS
Consumers are course-correcting: reassessing values, reprioritizing, streamlining, downsizing and trying to make better, more responsible choices about purchases and consumption.
- Demand sustainability, ethical practices (e.g., no animal testing) -> HCP transparency and articulating ideologies
- Seek ingredient provenance -> Pharma/HCPs seeing value in corporate brand-building
- Pharmacoeconomics -> certification programs to increase quality/accountability.
- Interest in local issues/building community -> surge in “community health” programs that reward healthy communities.
- Patient safety is heightened -> tech used to increase safety (bar coded medication, patient wrist bands).
- Emphasis on more humane treatments -> hospices up 70% since 1997.
6. CONSUMERS SEEKING COMPETITIVE EDGE
Consumers still highly competitive: seeking alpha-enabling info, products and strategies (to be their best, reach full potential):
- Homes are “incubators” (studio, lab, workshop, learning center) to emerge stronger/fitter -> home fortification/improvement up
- Surge in “performance” supplements, drinks, smart drugs (neurocognitives) -> burnout and new addictions.
- Using social media to get insider-tips and tricks for edge -> misinformation circulating
- Consider bodies as assets: “investing” in bodies/health (not just maintaining) -> insuring body parts.
- Fear of need to work harder/longer -> seeking longevity/age-defying strategies (plastic surgery, Lasik, hip replacement).
- Demand results/performance assurances – .Insurers paying/reward HCPs for “quality” of care and improved outcomes.
- Interest in national healthcare -> Congress exploring “total performance score” system (quality metrics) including HCP performance index/ranking posted on Internet
- Burnout from growing chronic illnesses -> Merck/Cigna JV aligning incentives with patient results (e.g. as patient adherence and health stabilizes, Cigna receives additional rebates).