stayin’ alive, ah ah ah ah-merican dream!

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).
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