4 key themes in consumer health

4 key themes in consumer health
Dec 7, 2022
Our team recently attended the HLTH 2022 conference, which included many great discussions about the future of healthcare. The conversations spanned across an extensive list of trends and innovations. A few recurring themes stood out to us and reinforced our understanding of where this industry is headed. This includes patient-centric design and the benefits of truly meeting patients where they are; mental health and its correlation with employee welfare; leveraging technology and data to improve health outcomes; and more. Here are our top four.

1. Experience design with patients at the core

The shift in focus from a traditional, fee-for-service model to a patients-first, value-based model means designing experiences that prioritize a patient’s health outcomes. Organizations need to reevaluate and reimagine how they accomplish their work today. Some key considerations for leaders could be: How well have they articulated the patient’s journey with their organization, and does it sufficiently factor in patient needs? Do they have supporting operating models and processes that enable a desirable patient journey and outcomes? Are employees incentivized to directly or indirectly support patient outcomes? In fact, we see customer experience and employee experience as inextricably linked.

2. The critical importance of mental health in a whole health solution

Mental health is increasingly viewed as a critical component of a person's overall health, and not just their well-being. However, the biggest barrier to seeking mental health support is access. There is a scarcity of services as well as a financial barrier because of insufficient coverage by health plans.

This is particularly important for employers to note as people seeking access are also employees, who are increasingly burned out and resigning, in the post-COVID world. Additionally, employers are one of the major sponsors of health insurance for almost half of the country. Both of these factors require employers to be more in tune with the employee population and the many roles they play in today's society—caregiver, parent, patient, etc. Providing customizable benefits plans and better mental health coverage equips employees with better holistic health and allows them to bring their best selves to work.

3. Leveraging data and technology to improve access and experience

The access barriers mentioned above are not just limited to mental health but plague the industry as a whole. There are a limited number of healthcare experts and not a lot of easy ways of connecting with them, which is why we're seeing a lot of telehealth services, apps, and other innovation in this space—leaning into digitization to improve access and overcome some of the scarcity of talent as well.

Advancements in technology also lead to greater availability of tools that help employees take control of their own physical and mental health. We heard about interesting innovations around helping document mental health journeys and then leveraging that data, through better algorithms and AI, to help primary care physicians (PCPs), therapists, and other providers get more real time feedback around what patients are thinking and feeling.

An insights-grounded approach is table stakes in delivering a higher level of care that considers the whole person. And data-driven determination of patient/customer needs is just the beginning. The right analytics framework also enables better organization, access to, and analyses of electronic health records—which can positively impact speed, quality of care, and interoperability. The importance of analytics and the right data-mindset was really embedded in every area of focus at the conference. Almost every speaker brought up the power of leveraging insights to drive strategy, approach, and solution development.

4. Understanding and optimizing the health connection across industries

There was also a lot of discussion around non-medical factors that impact health. One of our favorite sessions was about the “food Rx” movement—looking at how the lines of responsibility are blurring, and health and wellness have become an imperative that can be supported by the innovations and partnerships across industries to enable better, more sustainable outcomes. A couple of interesting examples we noted were:

  • Northwell Health is a hospital system partnering with a farm to help bring healthier foods to its patient community. They highlighted the importance of nutrition in the healing process and the fact that hospitals have been known for subpar food that people don't eat, which means they don’t get the nutrients they need to heal. By partnering with farms, they can provide better tasting, more nutritious food, while also being more sustainable. They're bringing in award-winning chefs to develop menus and seeing positive results via satisfaction scores and improved outcomes.

  • Olipop is a consumer-packaged goods brand created to be an alternative to soda. As a brand they have invested heavily in R&D to ensure their product helps regulate blood sugar. More stable blood sugar can help prevent disease; one of the biggest things people can do to bring their sugar intake down is reduce or eliminate soda from their diet.

One of the big benefits that we see here is companies across industries taking on large-scale, health-related efforts—and that’s moving things forward in health and improving lives. Through these efforts, brands can become much more impactful and drive trust with consumers.

Partnering to navigate this evolving landscape

The needs of consumers, members, patients, and employees are evolving rapidly and that often requires evolution and transformation. Helping companies navigate these types of changes requires a multi-pronged, nuanced approach from teams with experience across strategy, analytics, operational readiness, change management, employee communications, and healthcare consulting. Look for partners that embed into client teams to optimize and streamline efforts—delivering quicker, more impactful results.

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