Trends such as increasing out-of-pocket spend are changing the way investors need to think about those who access healthcare. The difference between being a patient or a consumer is an important one. To ensure the highest levels of safety, regulation in the healthcare market largely prescribes how the patient should receive care from those who provide it. Visibility on cost, value and access is often limited. Ideas such as choice, flexibility, and brand loyalty are concepts that are relatively alien to us as patients.
In contrast examples from the retail sector already show us how the decisions made by consumers are increasingly being shaped through social media and influencer marketing. As we are all asked to become more responsible for our own general health, wellness, fitness and nutrition these same channels will, over time, also begin to drive decisions by those who use health care. As patients make more of their own choices as individuals or as groups with common health needs, we will find the difference between the patient and consumer may turn out to be not that different after all.
Stephen Rowntree – global healthcare analyst. Newton, a BNY Mellon company