OCTOBER 16-18, 2019



October 16-18, 2019 | Boston, MA

Transforming Care for Patients as Consumers

By Melinda Thiel, Vice President, Customer Marketing & Solutions, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies

Today’s patients approach healthcare decision-making with a consumer mindset, demanding services and experiences equal to those readily available in other industries such as retail.

In addition to heightened patient expectations, this megatrend known as “consumerism” is being driven by new options such as walk-in primary care clinics, reducing primary care physician influence over patients, and shifted financial responsibility as a result of healthcare reform.

At the 2018 Connected Health Conference, I had the opportunity to discuss how and why this consumer mindset is impacting, and in many ways, enhancing how patients approach their healthcare decisions and interactions with providers.

As providers and health systems begin to embrace these changing dynamics, three key questions come to mind:

  • Why should I pay attention to changing consumer behavior?
  • How do I address this new role of patients as consumers?
  • How can technology help?

Driving the consumer experience 

Between the changing role of patients and the ripple effect of healthcare reform, health systems are compelled to evolve to meet the needs of patients and the industry at large. This includes taking a larger role in shaping and driving the patient experience.

Survey findings show that hospitals and health systems are aware that consumer expectations are changing, and they need to focus on meeting those expectations to stay competitive. While many are increasing activities designed to fulfill consumer expectations, particularly related to access and experience, there is still room (and incentive) to grow.

Patient experience is a key driver of loyalty, more so than cost or clinical quality. Providers and systems that commit to a better customer experience typically see a 25 percent increase in loyalty, which in turn can lead to revenue growth.

“Treating” patients as consumers

To be successful, consumerism initiatives require a strategic and cultural transformation of how healthcare provider organizations and health systems operate. To achieve this transformation, the healthcare delivery system needs to understand what motivates this new breed of patients to action as consumers.

According to a Deloitte survey about consumer priorities in healthcare, personalization is unsurprisingly number one—closely followed by cost, convenience and connectivity.1 While digital solutions are also a top priority for many consumers, it comes with a caveat. Successful digital interventions must meet consumers’ other needs as well, by connecting them to their care team, offering personalized guidance, and being easy and cost-effective to use.   

Bridging the gap with technology

Digital platforms and tools have tremendous potential to improve the patient experience across all dimensions: expand access, improve coordination, elevate information, streamline navigation and enhance partnership with clinicians and other caregivers.


As I mentioned, successful digital interventions need to offer patients and providers customized, actionable, science-based tools and resources. At Johnson & Johnson, we have developed Johnson & Johnson Health Partner, a connected health platform that helps patients physically, mentally and emotionally prepare for and recover from surgery by tapping into an individual’s intrinsic motivation to get and stay healthy.


One of the surgeries Health Partner currently supports is knee replacement surgery. Each person has a unique, underlying reason for pursuing this type of surgical intervention. For example, when asked by a nurse why he decided to have surgery now, my father-in-law’s response wasn’t about reducing pain or limiting medications. Instead, he said “I want to get back to fishing on the beach with my grandson.”

Consumerism is gaining momentum and will most likely accelerate, so organizations need to be prepared for this new reality that will impact all aspects of healthcare delivery.

Healthcare providers and health systems that embrace consumerism are likely to deliver better consumer experiences and health outcomes, while achieving consumer loyalty, revenue growth and system efficiencies.

For more information, read our recently published white paper in Becker’s Hospital Review.


1 Deloitte 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey


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