Healthcare Industry Must Step up Efforts to Enable Successful Consumerization

February 18, 2016 at 9:29 AM

US consumers appear ambivalent regarding what it means to be proactive or engaged in personal health, says Frost & Sullivan

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – February 18, 2016 – Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Creating a Culture of Health - A Survey of US Consumers: Benchmarking Consumer Attitudes on Health and Wellness Along the Road to Patient Engagement ( finds 21 percent of respondents consider themselves to be an engaged or proactive health consumer, the same percent that states they are not at all engaged in their healthcare. However, the majority seem to be ambivalent, with 48 percent identifying as “somewhat engaged” in their healthcare.

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While the consumer health engagement movement is real, many barriers still exist. Today, a good portion of American society still lacks sufficient interest and motivation needed to truly become engaged with their health, creating numerous challenges for healthcare organizations seeking to increase patient engagement efforts.  

However, socioeconomic changes and advances in information technology are increasingly incenting individuals to become more proactive. A growing number of individuals are tracking their health status via electronic personal health records, wearable sensors and in-home monitors. These data will be added to larger repositories of their personal data generated from providers, payers and other organizations. As these data come together and are opened up to individuals, consumers will have the necessary tools to take a more central role in all aspects of their health, including deciding on treatment options as well as selection of health plan packages.

To better benchmark where the American population stands on the road to creating a culture of health, Frost & Sullivan recently conducted a web-based survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers to explore key issues surrounding health preferences, behaviors, attitudes, health IT use as well as areas of frustration and satisfaction. 

The following are notable findings from the survey:

  • 50 percent use paper records to track healthcare status
  • 82 percent view conversations with healthcare professionals as the most valuable source of health information
  • 72 percent state it was extremely or very important to have access to their own medical records
  • The desire to look better, the influence of family members and positive financial changes motivated younger consumers more than older consumers to take actions to improve their health
  • 62 percent of younger consumers believe mobile apps to be effective verses 15 percent of older consumers
  • Depression or anxiety was second only to hypertension as the most commonly reported chronic health condition

“Patient or consumer engagement is a huge and growing focus for healthcare organizations of every stripe,” noted Frost & Sullivan’s Transformational Health Principal Analyst, Nancy Fabozzi. “Consumer health engagement and the rise of the new “culture of health” references broad societal shifts, which are presumably motivating people to take a more proactive role in their health and wellness.”

Consumer health engagement is being positioned as the Holy Grail or the “blockbuster drug” enabling businesses to grow and thrive in a radically restructured healthcare system. A variety of stakeholders are coming together to help facilitate individuals towards a greater involvement in their healthcare, especially when it comes to making behavioral changes that positively impactihealth outcomes.

Furthermore, every successful business needs to better understand how to engage a variety of consumers. Healthcare payers and providers have traditionally been slow to learn this essential truth and adjust standard operating practices to take into account such things as;

  • Preference for methods of communication
  • Access to personal health data
  • Motivations for taking a more proactive role in health
  • Trigger points for stress or satisfaction levels 
  • Use of information technology tools 
  • Preferred technology operating platforms

“To enable the successful evolution of passive patients to proactive health consumers, all healthcare stakeholders must develop ongoing knowledge regarding health-related attitudes, behaviors and motivations among various consumer population segments,” says Fabozzi. “This is the foundation from which companies can design customized products, programs and services capable of incenting and rewarding healthy behaviors.”

Additionally, the study uncovered six distinct profiles or personas of health consumers including Afflicted Urban Professional, Self-Motivated Suburbanite, Physician-Dependent Senior, Engaged Urban Techie, Healthcare Skeptic and Budget-Constrained.

Creating a Culture of Health—A  Survey of US Consumers: Benchmarking Consumer Attitudes on Health and Wellness Along the Road to Patient Engagement is part of the Connected Health ( Growth Partnership Service program, which also includes research in the following markets: health information exchange, health data analytics, telehealth, emerging wireless  technologies, acute care information systems, enterprise clinical information systems, and billing and revenue cycle management systems. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

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Creating a Culture of Health—A Survey of US Consumers: Benchmarking Consumer Attitudes on Health and Wellness Along the Road to Patient Engagement
Kayla Belcher
Corporate Communications – North America
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