Changing Appetites: How Consumers, Technology, and Outside Competitors are Transforming Restaurants and Health Systems | Deloitte US has been saved
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by Hanna Patterson, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Sitting at a traffic light in Denver a couple months ago, I noticed that a once-popular chain restaurant had permanently closed its doors. I hadn’t been there in years, and I wasn’t surprised. Consumer preferences are changing, and restaurants are trying to adapt.
This got me thinking about the parallels between the restaurant industry and some of the changes rippling through the health sector. Between 2019 and 2023, restaurant delivery is projected to grow at three times the rate of on-premises sales, with the majority going to digital orders.1 Although this trend does not end the need for physical restaurants, it has pushed the restaurant industry to adapt to new customer preferences. Hospital systems are also responding to changes in consumer preferences. Some of them are investing in virtual care and building outpatient facilities rather than adding more inpatient beds.2
I recently shared this restaurant/health care analogy with the leadership of a pediatric hospital. I explained that in both industries, change is being driven by increasingly convenience-focused consumers, new technologies, and tech-savvy consumer-focused companies that are moving in from the outside. After a few minutes, I noticed several heads bobbing in agreement. Just as some people might not want to wait in line for a table, they agreed that most parents probably don’t want to haul their kid into a hospital or clinic if all they need is an amoxicillin prescription to treat a throat infection, for example. Such routine care could be accomplished via virtual visit and, in the future, drones might deliver prescriptions to the home…just as robotic vehicles are beginning to make food deliveries for restaurants in some areas.3
Industry disruption is on the menu
From restaurants to health systems, customers are voting with their wallet and are demanding digital access, convenience, and transparency. Here’s a look at several parallels I’ve noticed between restaurants and the health sector:
The health care industry is facing some of the same consumer-led drivers of change that the restaurant industry began to feel several years ago. Restaurants—like hospitals and health systems—are asset intensive, brick-and-mortar industries. Both sectors are working to reconcile capital investments with trends that rely less on physical space and more on personalization.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy going to a nice restaurant from time to time, or even a fast-casual place. But sometimes I don’t want to stand in line or wait on hold for a reservation… or even turn on my stove at home. Similarly, there will always be people who need to see a specialist or who want to have a face-to-face conversation with their doctor. Our health care appetites are changing, and health systems should continue to explore ways to keep their customers satisfied.
1. Meals on Wheels: The Digital Ordering and Delivery Restaurant Revolution, L.E.K Consulting, February 2019
2. Deloitte 2019 Global Health Care Outlook
3. If you’re a college student, the robots are coming for you and they’re bringing food, USA Today, November 23, 2019
4. Reef Technology is putting virtual restaurants in parking garages, Nation’s Restaurant News, November 21, 2019
7. At-home diagnostic tools give medical device manufacturers a new way to connect with consumers , September 25, 2018, Deloitte
8. How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping the Restaurant World, QSR Magazine, December 2018