The New Healthcare Imperative: Building a Consumer-Centric Culture – Forbes

Consumers today have unprecedented power. And, until recently, the healthcare industry had little incentive to react to this newfound power. However, pressures from consumers to meet ever-rising expectations, primarily driven through experiences in other categories (think Amazon, Uber, Sephora, Nordstrom) and cost pressures from employers and governments, means that redefining how healthcare organizations interact with people is no longer a luxury. To this point, Prophet recently conducted in-depth interviews with more than 50 executives at health systems, payers, pharmaceutical companies and digital health companies around the globe to better understand how the healthcare industry can best evolve to better engage consumers.

Based on these conversations, Prophet identified several changes healthcare organizations have begun to make and published the report, “Making the Shift: Healthcare’s Transformation to Consumer-Centricity.” Everything from becoming more digital to learning how to be more empathetic to taking cues from companies in other industries to create world-class experiences. However, the overriding theme from the interviews, from CEOs to CMOs, was how critical culture is for organizations trying to make a consumer-oriented shift.

This is not new news to most industries, but to an industry where medicine, physicians, evidence-based decisions and protocol rule, worrying about developing a first-class, consumer-centered culture was not seen as a requirement to providing topnotch healthcare. That has changed. Forever.

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Nurse caring for girl

The good news is that healthcare leaders already know what needs to be fixed. At some point, every hospital CEO, physician, nurse practitioner or administrative staff member has personally engaged with the healthcare system outside of their job. Quite often, when they are on the “other side of the fence” they better understand why healthcare is among the least liked industries in the U.S. according to a Gallup poll. With a more consumer-centric mindset and culture, everyone in the healthcare value chain will be able to stay focused on why they come to work each day – to help the sick get better and the healthy stay that way – and work toward making the changes needed to improve the overall consumer experience.

Mayo Clinic has taken this ambition to heart. It has built and strengthened its organizational culture around a common mission of patient-centered care. Mayo Clinic President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Noseworthy said, “At Mayo Clinic, we put patients first – that is the foundation of our culture, it is in our DNA.”

In examining Mayo Clinic, it is clear how setting the powerful common purpose can create a self-propelling culture, where everyone is bought in and all decisions are informed by that purpose. As Dr. Noseworthy told us, “Every step we take, every tactical or strategic decision we make is based on what is in the best interest of the patient – and that is the only interest to be considered.”

When we talked to leaders at organizations like Geisinger, Intermountain Health, Eli Lilly and Company and Aetna, the drumbeat was the same. As Novant Health’s Chief Executive Officer Carl Armato put it, what enabled his organization’s shift toward consumer-centricity “was our ability to mobilize our employees around a common and clear vision. At Novant Health, we don’t look at the patient experience separately from the physician/team member experience; they are blended together. We need to create a remarkable experience for our patients and our team members.”

In both the Mayo Clinic and Novant Health examples, several ideas aimed at kick starting a consumer-centered culture surfaced that may help others launch their own efforts. These include:

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