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Engage Consumers December 06, 2017

An Honest Glimpse of Healthcare’s Future Consumer – “We’ve Got Work to Do”

Partner, Health and Life Sciences, Oliver Wyman
Chief Client and Strategy Officer, Lippincott
Key Takeaway
Research says 40% of the workforce could be participating in the gig economy by 2020. Find out how that shapes the future consumer.

Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit attendees participating in our interactive Meet Dawn: Customer of the Future experiential exhibit received a dose of what the customer of the future (or a good portion of them anyway) will look like, how those digitally linked consumers will feel about the world around them, what they care about, how they live and go about their daily lives, and what they expect and demand. (For those not able to attend, please click here for detailed insights on Dawn.)

Lippincott’s Customer of the Future identifies six major shifts propelled by fundamental human needs shaping our future. To bring the trends to life, we follow Dawn, our fictional customer of the future, who is making the most of these new capabilities. Our clients had five key takeaways after “meeting” Dawn:

  1. Consumers, supported by technology and driven by shifting societal norms, will embrace a drastically new world view including how they think about their well-being, and how they choose to engage and access health services. This profound shift will impact everyone, from Medicare recipients to Millennials.
  2. The future is now in many areas of daily living — and disruptive change is already occurring in healthcare.
  3. Our healthcare system is just beginning to think about how to serve these future customers in ways that matter to them and today is still unprepared to win hearts and minds (and wallets) on a sustainable basis.
  4. In the meantime, other more nimble, external players are well positioned to extract value from incumbents.

Great opportunity exists for healthcare players — both payers and providers — to maintain strategic control in this volatile landscape via partnerships and capability investments to develop and deliver meaningful value propositions. Yet no one has cracked the code.

Customer of the Future: Implications for Healthcare

The Customer of the Future has major implications for healthcare, some of which have been addressed below:

A Life in Flow – In the future, fixed acquisitions that once anchored us will soon flow with us. No longer tethered by home mortgages, car repairs, or a single 9-5 job (Intuit predicts that up to 40% of the work force could be participating in the gig economy by 2020), we will prioritize access over ownership and our lives will be increasingly de-located. (A timeline of the major disruptive technologies is outlined below).

Questions to address today:

  • How will care delivery will be organized as individuals and occupations become more fluid, or the challenges of providing coordinated, longitudinal care for folks always on the move?
  • What does it mean for how doctors work (where, when, and how)?
  • Who (or what) will be the PCP for an increasingly mobile consumer base?

Transparent existence – If history is any guide, in the battle between privacy and sharing, never bet against the “likes.” We crave connection and convenience, and we’ll trade our personal information to get it.

Questions to address today:

  • How can consumers’ need for belonging and the craving for community be leveraged in a digital environment to drive better outcomes?
  • How will issues around behavioral health be handled?
  • To what extent will trust shift away from institutions and towards the crowd? 
  • And, if 31 percent of respondents to a social experiment were willing to exchange their fingerprints in exchange for a cookie, will the issues of privacy continue to be dominant? 

Omnipotent Individual – From tribes to teams, our drive for power has dictated behavior for centuries. Technology will give us new opportunities to wield power with our personal preference. But with power comes responsibility, and big ethical questions for consumers to consider.

Questions to address today:

  • How accountable should healthcare consumers be?
  • How much control should a consumer have over his or her treatment plan?
  • What business models will reward and hold consumers accountable for their health decisions? 

On-demand everything – Our appetite for the instantaneous is immense. Immediate access and automated task completion will fundamentally change how we spend our time and what we expect from experiences. The implications for healthcare are particularly troubling, as we have created a culture of instant gratification that is at odds with healthy living. There is no “pill” or surgical procedure for good health – it is about re-purposing one’s life and remaining dedicated to that investment.

Questions to address today:

  • How can healthcare providers play to on-demand needs that extend beyond convenient care?
  • And how will this be realized while driving longer-term sustainable outcomes?

Exponential intelligence — Artificial intelligence is already mimicking us, and in some cases, beating us. In healthcare, machine learning is outperforming seasoned professionals for some diagnoses (IBM Watson has a 90 percent accuracy rate in diagnosing lung cancer compared to 50 percent for human physicians).

Questions to address today:

  • Will consumers trust a machine more than their doctor?
  • How can machines become emotional healers?
  • What is the role in the human in this new dynamic?

Synthetic reality – The distinction of digital versus real will disintegrate. Our synthetic reality will combine the natural and the man-made to enhance form and function. In 10 years, virtual reality may outpace the declining television market in annual revenue, generating $110 billion to television’s $99 billion.

Questions to address:

  • Will “high touch” engagement through virtual reality become a primary mechanism to drive consumer and employee behavior change?  
  • Or will consumers get lost in their fantasies and stay on the couch?

Having witnessed the wave of disruption spread across industries, it should not be surprising to see just how much – and how fast – change can happen. The promise of rapid change can create skepticism, cynicism, and fair amount of anxiety. But when one looks closely, utilizing focused research and a greater understanding of human behavior, the clues to the future become clearer. At Oliver Wyman/Lippincott, we’ve uncovered the evidence driving the key behaviors, needs, values, and demands of the customer of the future.(See timeline below of disruptive technologies).

It will be a major undertaking for healthcare executives to accelerate competency development to beat the competition with a superior set of value propositions. This movement starts with knowing which customers to prioritize first, then identifying their needs and successfully meeting them. This requires more than incremental inquisition, but rather specialized research techniques, a five-year blueprint that brings concepts to customer, a competency build in alliances with a “network” of solutions providers and enablers, and the development of a culture – just like the always ahead-of-the-curve Apple or Netflix – that puts the customer first and foremost.

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