Chapter 6: Transitioning to consumer-centric health care

Hospital CEO survey series

As consumers become more involved in their health care decisions, what can hospitals do to put their patients first? The sixth—and final—chapter of our 2017 hospital CEO series explores this shift toward more consumer-centric health care and where executives should be making investments in the patient experience.

Preparing for the future: The importance of consumer-centric care

Many health system CEOs say that being consumer-centric is a top priority for their institutions, especially as organizations move from a business-to-business (B2B) model (with employers, health plans, and physicians as their main customers) toward a business-to-consumer (B2C) (or patient) orientation.

Many CEOs realize that consumers are becoming more involved in their health care decisions, which can make positive health system-consumer connections and interactions increasingly important. CEOs interviewed stated they expect their leadership to understand consumers' evolving expectations, and that a focus on the consumer has become a fundamental part of how some organizations see themselves.

To prepare their organizations for the future, many CEOs are focusing on the patient/consumer experience and exploring direct-to-consumer care delivery. They're also seeking to better understand consumers. One nonprofit hospital CEO explains that making health care "easier" for consumers to access—and providing high-quality care—are distinct aims, both of which can improve consumers' lives. Technology can assist health care organizations in reaching these goals. More and more, health care providers should begin to view their customers as members. As health systems take more risk for outcomes, engaging with their patients as members, or subscribers, can require a whole new set of capabilities for health care providers.

Improving the patient experience can not only help reduce challenges in accessing health care but can improve profit margins and quality scores. Recent Deloitte Center for Health Solutions research found that hospitals with higher patient experience scores are generally more profitable than those with lower scores. Hospitals with more positive patient-experience scores also rank higher in certain quality scores than those with lower experience scores. Many CEOs are learning that there are benefits to addressing consumers' needs and they are striving to create positive patient experiences.

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Increasing focus on the consumer

​Several leading health systems are investing in technology and improving the patient experience to better connect with consumers. But many of them still have a long way to go to become truly consumer-centric. Health care can look to other industries—such as airlines, travel/hospitality, and financial services—to identify effective strategies for interacting with consumers.

To address consumerism, many hospital CEOs are:

  • Realizing that meeting an individual's expectations as a consumer may be as important as meeting their clinical needs
  • Keeping clinical care at the center of a patient's experience, rather than merely focusing on appearances or amenities
  • Investing in technologies to make health care easier to understand and access
  • Establishing and nurturing a two-way relationship with consumers to build long-term loyalty

These types of changes are helping move the traditional hospital-patient relationship toward a member relationship. Ultimately, surveyed health system CEOs predict that hospitals with the most members are going to do the best in the new world of health care.

To learn more about hospital CEOs' perspectives on consumer-centric health care, download the full report.

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Consumerism is important because we need engaged consumers to make intelligent decisions on where to seek care and when.

—CEO of a large children’s hospital

​Explore additional chapters from Deloitte's 2017 survey of US health system CEOs.

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