Care Transformation Center Blog

Cater to patient preferences for care (and make money doing it)

Jordan Stone and Cabell Jonas

As consumers have started owning more of their own ambulatory access decisions, they have begun to outline the specific preferences they have for this care. Three specific preferences consistently rise to the top: affordability, accessibility, and tailored service.

The challenge for most systems is turning these well-known consumer preferences into real opportunities for organizational growth.

Our new study, The Consumer-Oriented Ambulatory Network, outlines three ways to drive growth by meeting consumer demands in the ambulatory network.

Preserve market share by offering affordable service options

Providers are experiencing downward pricing pressure on ambulatory services such as imaging from multiple angles: payers, providers in ACOs, and increasingly from individual patients on high-deductible health plans.

Other state and non-governmental third parties are magnifying those pressures with price transparency tools aimed at propelling patient consumerism. However, reducing service prices across the board limits revenue growth by offering discounted care to price-sensitive and insensitive patients alike.

A more strategic solution is to create a mechanism for price-sensitive patients to opt in to discount programs, based on personal preferences. In our study, we highlight several organizations that are doing just that—and maintaining a viable pricing structure overall.

  • Get your copy of the full study now to establish or transform your ambulatory sites into a coherent network equipped to grow in an increasingly consumerist market. Download or order »

Drive on-demand volumes through new patient attraction, in-network redirection

As retail clinics, urgent care centers, and virtual visit providers continue to attract business, health systems need to develop competitive assets that appeal to target populations and drive growth within the broader system. There are two key levers systems should press on to drive growth through on-demand care sites:

Bring in new volumes through a 'pull and push' strategy
Strategic site placement and traditional planning tactics help to pull in new business to on-demand access points. But volumes can increase further by pushing appropriate cases from other system sites to the on-demand care site. To make a push strategy work, leaders must encourage physicians to send surplus cases (given appropriate acuity) to convenient care sites when it's impossible to provide timely service within the PCP office.

Convert the initial visit into downstream value for the system
Value should be defined based on organizational goals, and can be as broad as lives under risk contracts or as narrow as establishing a PCP relationship. Whatever the next step, organizations must develop hardwired referrals protocols to ensure patients remain in the system and surround access points with provider support to ensure timely, appropriate follow-ups.

Progressive organizations are targeting self-funded employers to execute on both of these strategies. UMC-Physician Network Services (UMC-PNS) directly contracts with cost-conscious employers around the use of its Express Care retail clinics.

Low co-pays encourage employees to use the alternative sites, diverting low-severity volumes from overburdened PCP practices. With 6,500 annual visits, not only are the clinics profitable, but UMC-PNS retains more patients in-network for necessary downstream care.

Deliver primary care how—and where—consumers want it

For routine appointments, the primary care model can be too inflexible to satisfy patient demands for customizable service. Some patients want more in-person time with the physician, others would rather check-in remotely with an NP or PA. Despite their divergent definitions of elevated service, patients within both groups are willing to pay a premium for more tailored service.

To turn appetite for elevated service into system value, organizations are exploring premium pricing models—particularly through non-traditional approaches like concierge medicine and virtual care services. Beyond per-click revenue, remote delivery channels like virtual visits can also create much-needed PCP capacity in crowded practices, all while meeting consumer demands for virtual service.

Free Events for You and Your Team

Get your team together and join one of our hour-long webconferences to listen our research—without leaving your desk:

  • May 13 | Telemedicine and Concierge Care: Trends in Consumerism and Non-Traditional Primary Care Delivery

  • May 29 | Profit From Convenient Primary Care: Retail Clinics, Urgent Care Centers, and Telemedicine

  • June 17 | Attracting the Price Sensitive Consumer


C-suite members of the Health Care Advisory Board are also invited to join us for the 2014 CEO Special Sessions, where we’ll continue the growth conversation.

Are You Ready to Show Your Prices?

In a recent report card from the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, 45 states were awarded an “F” for failing to provide patients with meaningful information on price transparency. Can you pass the test? Find out »


Build the Consumer-Oriented Ambulatory Network

Consumers want care that is affordable, accessible, and customized to their preferences and needs. Learn how to profitably meet these demands by building a competitive, coordinated, and high-performing ambulatory network. Read the study »


Featured Case Studies

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Hybrid concierge: The best of both worlds?

Time and attention: The value patients are willing to pay for


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Four Zones of the Ideal Exam Room

Find out how to reorient clinic workflow and design around the patient by dedicating a zone to caregivers, a zone to discussion, and a zone to information sharing. Read the study »


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Interested in Membership?

Learn more about the Health Care Advisory Board and how we can help your organization. Contact us.