From Patient to Consumer: Shifting Attitudes in Healthcare

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We know that people’s attitudes about healthcare are changing. Slowly, but surely, they are transitioning away from being passive patients and evolving into far more engaged, better-informed healthcare consumers. 

We can largely attribute this shift to the onslaught of websites, mobile technologies, and the development of a 24/7 news cycle over the last several years. When people are pummeled with information at that kind of velocity, it makes them more observant. It makes them less confused about how things work and it makes them more knowledgeable buyers. 

Within the context of the healthcare industry, the shift from patient to active consumer is particularly noticeable among senior demographics. 

The global population of people ages 65 and older is expected to swell to approximately 1.5 billion people by mid-century—more than triple what it was in 2015. The Pew Research Center reveals that nearly 70% of U.S. residents within that age group are active online, representing more than 31 million consumers. 

The Pew Internet & American Life Project also tells us that the seniors who have already adopted digital technologies (keeping in mind that this number is growing every day) are highly enthusiastic digital surfers, especially when it comes to healthcare. 

Well over half of seniors who are online today use the Internet to seek health information and do research before making provider decisions. They can independently access and analyze data about the differences in cost and performance of their local physicians and hospitals and, as a result, are making wiser, more cost-effective provider choices. 

What it boils down to is this: People’s core beliefs about healthcare are changing. People—seniors included—are neither patient nor patients; they’re engaged consumers of modern healthcare, and the industry should only expect this trend to continue. The rumors about seniors being unable (or unwilling) to embrace digital platforms are simply untrue. 

Don’t buy into the stereotypes that claim seniors are averse to technology. Leveraging a stratified marketing mix—one that includes digital channels—is undoubtedly becoming the best way to connect. 

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