It’s tough to imagine a more complex product for a marketer to work with than a health care plan. The density of detail that needs to be communicated to a consumer is daunting.
Piling on to the inherently unwieldy nature of these plans, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended both consumers’ behaviors and attitudes and health care providers’ practices.
I recently asked Leslie Read, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Deloitte digital’s health care customer and digital transformation lead for her perspective on the shifting health care plan marketing landscape.
Paul Talbot: Where do you see meaningful innovation taking place on the health plan front, and how are these innovations most effectively being presented by marketers to consumers?
Leslie Read: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated shifts in the health care consumer’s attitudes and behaviors and changed the health care delivery landscape. These changes include a move to virtual visits, new approaches to both in-person and virtual care delivery and increased consumer demand to have more ownership and control (particularly of their health care data).
Talbot: When it comes to insurance, many of us are consumed by stasis. What marketing tactics are proving effective at motivating the consumer to change health plans?
Read: Consumers have many care options today. To help consumers consider their care, health care marketers should aim to provide the experience that’s important to them.
This could involve inspiring hope to reduce anxiety, enabling the right connections to help consumers get the resources they need when they need them and creating a sense of control that helps reduce uncertainty.
As we look ahead to the post-pandemic world, when motivating consumers to change health plans it will be important for marketers and health care organizations to focus on understanding consumers to develop a multilayered strategy that supports consumer needs and reimagine product design to sustain the trust created through the COVID-19 experience.
Talbot: What points of differentiation should health plan marketers focus on right now?
Read: Today, as marketers are determining their strategies and plans for next week, next month or the post COVID-19 world, they should first consider the human emotions at play and how organizations can elevate the human experience in health care. To meet rising consumer expectations, health plan marketers should aim to create a consumer-centric, digitally enabled, and fully integrated health ecosystems. They should also focus on the DNA of trust in health care to build trust with their consumers.
Talbot: This is often complex information to communicate. Given that most of us find the realm of health plans confusing, what does the astute health plan marketer do to break through?
Read: Health care consumers are different from other consumers. Their experiences are diverse and intricate because they engage with multiple different organizations (e.g. health plans, providers, pharmacies, etc.) on potentially sensitive and personal topics regarding their health. Given these complex and evolving dynamics, it has never been more important for health care marketers to have a thorough understanding of consumer attitudes, beliefs, motivations and behaviors.
To communicate the complexity of health plans while maintaining the trust of consumers, health care organizations will likely need to rethink long-held beliefs on how they conduct their operations. By demonstrating reliability, competence, transparency and a sense of empathy in strategies, marketers can begin to gain loyalty with consumers that will go a long way in the future.
Talbot: What does your research reveal about the frame of mind of health plan consumers right now?
Read: On the one hand, patients are increasingly turning to virtual visits, interactions with health technology, and are more willing to share data. On the other hand, people are reporting increased levels of anxiety, financial and economic worries and hesitation to go outside and get back to ‘everyday life’ for fear of getting the virus or passing it along to others.
Our data also shows that 1 in 4 consumers chose to cancel or delay an in-person primary care visit during COVID-19, and with that, 53% of consumers believe health care services will need to dramatically improve their safety and sanitation measures to be comfortable with in-person care.
Talbot: Any other insights on health plan marketing strategy you’d like to share?
Read: For marketers, we recommend four key steps on how to promote elevating the human experience, including (re)committing to the importance of consumer-centricity and clarifying ownership, unifying data, centralizing insights and rethinking and adjusting engagement.