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The Pursuit of Healthy-ness

It may seem like the Age of You is nowhere more present than in healthcare. We're rocking Fitbits, sharing our quantified selves online, and booking concierge medicine appointments from the comfort of our couches. But unlike other industries that are spurred by Millennial preferences, increased consumer demand, and the latest must-have tech, the disruption in healthcare is unique-and monumental. Tremendous change is here, and whether we want to or not, it's time to care about healthcare.

We need to become more informed about our health and medical care-and brands will play a huge part in that process. To some extent, each segment of the healthcare industry has acknowledged the shift, and companies are looking for ways to engage and inform consumers. The brands that are nimble and work to improve the customer experience are headed for success. By clarifying marketplace offerings and helping people take control of their lives, these brands can ultimately create more loyalty than any other category. As options increase, we can assume people will choose accuracy, reliability, and clarity over trends or discounts and will therefore be less likely to price shop for a glucose monitor than they would for a can of soda.

The Affordable Care Act is not the only seismic shift to affect healthcare. The change is global and is being driven by a number of trends, including the adoption of new technology in healthcare (electronic health records, 3-D printers), the aging population, and overall governmental attempts to reduce a nation’s healthcare costs. Consumers-formerly known as patients-are left to figure out what all this means. The brands that adapt their strategic thinking will find themselves ahead of the pack. And the intensity of the changes within the healthcare space will only widen the margin between the brands that nail it and the ones that fail it.

Consumer-centricity

Healthcare brands need to start thinking of themselves as B2C companies, even if they have traditionally operated as B2B companies. As an example, Cigna is now offering insurance under its “Together, all the way” empowerment platform. Will it work? That depends on whether Cigna is consistent in its interactions with its consumers-especially those who are choosing Cigna over their employer’s coverage provider.

Transparency

Companies that test, diagnose, and track us are going to have to learn how to share information securely and completely, or lose customers to individualized companies like home DNA testers 23andMe. Electronic health records and medical information sharing are just the beginning as we start to use big data to create better therapies and more self-specific approaches to medicine.

Personalization

What have you done for me lately, healthcare? Hospital systems are starting to take on the hospitality model of customer satisfaction. As competition heats up, and hospital systems merge and gain scale to deliver on better outcomes at a lower cost, they also have to compete on customer experience. Warm, welcoming rooms with privacy, quality food, and treating patients and their caregivers with respect will become important factors in deciding where you and your family receive care.

Pharmaceutical companies that grew exponentially under the mass-market blockbuster model are now trying to become more nimble, and focusing more on treatments for niche diseases like the autoimmune disorders that continue to grow among smaller population groups. The personalized medicine approach will take the lead, as companies look to speed development and reduce costs by seeking answers beyond the blockbuster.

Convenience

Pharmacies, point-of-care practices, and concierge medicine are becoming local health and wellness centers to meet consumer needs and fill the shortage of general care physicians. CVS made waves with its decision to stop selling tobacco products but what may be more important is that all pharmacy chains, as well as retailers like Walmart, will be expanding their onsite clinical services.

Consumer/Health Crossover

Big players in the consumer space will continue vying for credibility and control of new healthcare offerings. However, success in the consumer space will not automatically translate into success in healthcare. But smart partnerships like Google and Novartis, or agile campaigns like Nike’s new fitness reward machines can set these brands up for success.

We don’t know how things will ultimately shake out, but we look forward to seeing which healthcare brands will lead in the Age of You.

Contributors

Chief Executive Officer, InterbrandHealth