By John Lavey | Hammock President and COO

Yesterday at emids’ Healthcare Summit—one of the few healthcare conferences to successfully deliver thought leadership, in my opinion—a few panelists started to get real about the idea of consumerism in healthcare. My takeaway? Marketers should be a lot less focused on patients and consumers and think more about how to solve problems for people.

A crowd of C-suite leaders from payer and provider organizations talked frankly about data—its potential and pain points—and how organizations can evolve to better coordinate and deliver care. But the discussion moved past the usual cliches about putting patients at the center of the system.

Most companies don’t have the DNA to engage with customers on a day-to-day basis, many panelists noted. They aren’t in the “lifeflow” of an average person, in the same way we are used to getting Lyft rides to the airport, paying a babysitter with Venmo or checking OpenTable for a reservation.

Leaders from Nike and Lyft talked about their ability to use data to create highly personalized and satisfying experiences for their customers. Glen Tullman, CEO of Livongo, pointed out the absurdity of a healthcare consumer experience when viewed through the lens of other industries: Can you imagine sitting in a waiting room at a retail outlet waiting to spend money?

But the challenges of selling shoes and clothing to consumers are far less complicated than delivering healthcare. What’s required to adapt to consumerism is to think about people and their lack of desire to engage with healthcare providers. We have to remember that patients are people who have already entered an experience they don’t necessarily desire.


1. Focus on the person, not the patient.
2. Deliver solutions that fit seamlessly with people’s lives.
3. Separate yourself from what you are trying to sell and think about the needs of healthcare consumers to earn their trust.

Image Credit | iStock

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This post is part of Hammock’s award-winning Idea Email series. Idea Emails are sent every other week and share one insightful marketing idea. Idea Email comes in two flavors: Original and Healthcare. To subscribe to the original Idea Email (general marketing ideas), click here . To subscribe to the Healthcare Idea Email (healthcare marketing ideas), click here.