Games of Chance


It’s a buyers market out there in any way you want to look at it.  Got real estate to sell? Good luck.  Need a job?  Remember to rub your rabbit’s foot before you submit the next application.  Trying to win over a client?  Hedge your bets.  Trying to attract patients?  Wait.  That one wasn’t supposed to require the beneficence of Fortune.  Yet that is exactly what consumerism has brought to the healthcare market.  It’s a huge gamble for all involved- the newly empowered (or perhaps desperately overwhelmed) consumer being wooed by every stripe of service provider, the institutions looking to hit the jackpot of market demand and patient satisfaction.  This could be good news for those of us providing design services as institutions race to up the ante on one another.  It could also mean that we are forced to take on bigger risks to deliver better outcomes.  So who’s playing?

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According to Deloitte Center for Healthcare Solutions, there are six types of healthcare consumers out there, each with their own behavior profile.  This might sound like a problem for hospital marketing departments, but you, architect can win big by understanding these behavioral profiles and providing designs that respond to them:

They are the cheapskates- Casual and Cautious consumers aren’t sick and don’t seek out care.  They also represent the largest chunk (34%) of healthcare consumers.  The design challenge for this group is to draw them in with services they are interested in- wellness programs, farmers markets, acupuncture and massage therapy, classes on things like stress relief or weight loss.  Maybe even a little retail therapy.  These are the people that need to have the line between healthcare and the rest of their life blurred as much as possible to get them in and get them engaged in their well-being.  The challenge?  Their loyalty to any given healthcare brand.

Content and Compliants are the true blue consumers.  They like the way they currently receive healthcare and tend to resist change.  This block, which is 20% of the healthcare population tends to follow care plans and regularly seek out care for maintenance of their health.  What do they need in a space?  Comfort and clarity.  Don’t overcomplicate with too many bells and whistles, make it easy for them to get their care and be on their way.  Think about multiple access points, convenient parking, one stop “shopping” opportunities that allow them to cluster multiple clinical visits, diagnostics, and testing and really intuitive wayfinding.

The Online and Onboard are not necessarily dissatisfied with their care, they just tend not to settle for said care as the definitive word on their well being.  This 17% of the population are avid researchers looking for alternative therapies or emerging technologies to supplement their care and won’t hesitate to bring this information to a visit.  They need to have a space that showcases the array of options offered by a provider and makes it easy for them to interface their technology- think lots of places to sit and access the wi-fi, wellness amenities highlighted with QR codes, a storefront approach to the care environment, so allow them to take in the array of offerings at a glance.

While they only comprise 14% of the healthcare population, Sick and Savvy individuals are the  biggest consumers of healthcare products and services.  This group prefers a collaborative approach to their care decisions, involving their doctor, spouse or other family member.  They need spaces that accommodate that second or third person comfortably and a format that encourages conversation and exchange of information.  This group would benefit from a consult-room rich environment that would allow their care team to engage them on a very personal and intimate level.

The “cocktailers” of the bunch, Out and About consumers are very independent and like to assemble their own combinations of services ranging from traditional to alternative therapies.  This 9% of healthcare consumers will judge you, and move on if they find anything lacking.  What they need is strong brand identity and differentiation of services. 

Price is paramount to the 4% of Shop and Save consumers out there.  They have loyalty to value alone, and are willing to put in a great deal of time seeking out their health bargains.  This group is a big user of things like retail clinics, and customized health plans that reward their thrifty ways.  Facilities that allow care to be streamlined (and therefore delivered at a lower cost) are key to compete with others working to attract this market segment. 

These insights into how healthcare consumers think and act begins to paint a picture of what the healthcare design of the future could look like.  What I see is that it’s not a one size fits all solution.  Different building types, (urgent care/storefront clinic, outpatient community center, and mothership hospital) that serve different purposes, and incorporation of amenities that are not typically associated with healthcare into healthcare spaces all need to find their way into our programming efforts.  In today’s competitive environment, we need to help our clients balance costs with services and provide true value.  While we take great pains to understand how clinicians and equipment interface, we haven’t put much effort into understanding healthcare’s consumer preferences.  In today’s market,  unless we can produce designs that respond to their expectations and needs, all we are doing is rolling the dice on the outcome.

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