The healthcare landscape is evolving at breakneck speed, and consumer expectations are shifting just as fast. The Humanizing Brand Experience Vol 7 report, with insights from over 26,000 consumers and rankings of more than 200 brands nationwide, uncovers insights that extend far beyond the traditional hospital walls. Healthcare-related industries, from pharmaceuticals to insurance to health technology and beyond, must adapt to remain relevant and effective.

Let’s dive into how four of these shifting consumer demands are reshaping the priorities and strategies of companies across the healthcare spectrum.

1. The “best people” imperative

Humanizing Brand Experience identifies “Best People” as the top driver of HCAHPS performance. And consumers have a pretty broad definition of “Best People” – with 42% considering it to include anyone they interact with in the organization, not just clinicians. And it’s not just about technical chops (though 69% do prioritize that). Soft skills matter too, with 59% valuing qualities like being knowledgeable, trustworthy, and compassionate. Consumers are looking for a holistic package – healthcare professionals who are not only clinically competent but also emotionally intelligent and patient-centered. The ideal “Best People” in healthcare, therefore, deliver both cutting-edge care and empathetic support.

This trend is extending across the healthcare and related industries. Companies are doubling down on hiring, training, and retaining employees who excel in both technical expertise and interpersonal skills. Take health insurance companies—they’re teaming up with specialized recruiters to find that perfect blend of skills. They’re focusing on cultural fit and investing in career development to attract and retain top talent. Leading health insurance companies are also leveraging technology-enabled solutions, prioritizing diversity, and offering flexible work arrangements to boost service quality and efficiency. They’re laser focused on making every touchpoint shine with knowledgeable, caring people handling each customer interaction. These “best people” are keys to customer satisfaction, trust, and better health outcomes. Putting people first, they understand, is the not-so-secret sauce for exceptional brand experiences and loyal customers.

2. Navigating generational shifts

The report shines a light on some significant generational differences in healthcare engagement, with Gen Z as the poster child for a new approach. According to the data, 42% of Gen Z respondents have delayed care in the past year, even when recommended. Trust is also a sore spot, with 43% of Gen Z not trusting their healthcare providers to make the right decisions for them.

What’s so important for healthcare and related industries to understand is that Gen Z’s approach to building trust differs vastly from older generations, prioritizing empathy, kindness, and responsiveness over expertise and reputation. They also have lower expectations of healthcare systems in general, but are more likely to set and track health goals.

Teladoc Health, for example, has gone all-in on digital by embracing a user-friendly mobile app and website that allows patients to easily schedule appointments. And with 24/7 care on demand, they’re giving people the quick and easy care they’re demanding.

Recognizing Gen Z’s inclination for convenience, Teladoc’s Primary360 offers comprehensive virtual care, personalized plans, and dedicated care teams. They’ve even expanded their prescription service, including GLP-1 medications for weight loss. By tackling younger generations’ wants and needs head-on while still giving older adults the options they’re used to, Teladoc is working to engage all age groups, cut down on delayed care, and build trust across generations.

3. The rise of holistic wellness

Humanizing Brand Experience reveals a growing trend towards holistic wellness in healthcare. 53% of consumers now value healthcare that treats the whole person—mind, body, and spirit, a 4 percentage point increase from the previous year. And younger generations are leading the charge.

This shift towards holistic wellness isn’t just a passing trend – it’s reshaping how consumers view and trust their healthcare providers. Trust issues persist, with 39% of those distrusting healthcare providers citing a tendency to “push medication too quickly instead of offering more holistic options.” Notably, “Wellness” has become the second strongest correlating attribute to HCAHPS performance, trailing only “Best People.”

Pfizer, the pharma giant, is expanding its role beyond medication provider. They’ve developed a dedicated wellness section on their website, offering comprehensive information on various aspects of holistic health. They’re also creating resources to help people understand their illnesses and treatment options, putting patients where they want to be when it comes to their health—in the driver’s seat.

With a laser focus on improving health literacy through various resources and offerings to help patients better understand and act on health information, Pfizer is contributing to more informed and holistic care decisions. Through these initiatives, they’re tackling trust issues head-on and positioning themselves as partners in health and wellness across the board.

4. Empowered consumers: Trust, research, and decision-making

Healthcare consumers are savvier today than ever before, and much more proactive in making decisions about their care. 72% of consumers frequently research symptoms and treatments independently, while 47% don’t always trust their healthcare providers’ decisions. And exactly half report having significant control over their healthcare choices, specifically feeling empowered to switch providers or health systems if they’re not satisfied.

This isn’t just about making decisions within a single system anymore – it’s full-blown healthcare consumerism, with people ready and willing to shop around for the best care experience.

Health technology companies are stepping up to meet these empowered consumers where they are. IQVIA, a health information technology and clinical research company, developed an Orchestrated Customer Engagement platform that enables personalized interactions across a slew of digital touchpoints. Their recommendation engine uses advanced analytics and AI to deliver tailored health information, serving up the personalized content consumers are after.

Recognizing the shift towards consumer-driven healthcare, IQVIA is developing AI-powered medical information services for self-serve, digital-first health information access. By harnessing data analytics, embracing digital engagement, and zeroing in on personalized interactions, IQVIA helps bridge the gap between empowered consumers and the healthcare industry as a whole.

A new normal in health

The healthcare landscape is evolving, and consumer expectations are changing with it. For healthcare-related industries, adapting to these trends is no longer optional. By putting “Best People” first, navigating generational shifts, going all-in on holistic wellness, and giving consumers more power over their own care, companies can create more meaningful, engaging brand experiences.

These trends present both challenges and opportunities. Companies that can innovate and pivot will not only boost their brand but also drive better health outcomes and patient satisfaction. As we charge ahead, the healthcare-related brands that come out on top will be the ones that embrace the changing tides and put consumers at the heart of everything they do.

To dive deeper into these trends and gain actionable insights for your organization, download the full Humanizing Brand Experience Vol 7 report today. This comprehensive study is an essential resource for any healthcare leader looking to navigate the complexities of today’s consumer imperatives.

Ready to put these insights into action? Reach out to discuss how your organization can leverage the power of human-centric branding to drive choice, advocacy, and business results. Together, we can build a care experience that truly puts people first. Let’s start the conversation today.

Dave Middendorf
July 9, 2024 By Dave Middendorf