In this second in a series of posts, we’re providing a snapshot of some of the findings of Monigle’s recently-released report, Humanizing Brand Experience: Healthcare Edition – Volume 5, created in partnership with the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) and the  American Hospital Association (AHA). 

In our previous post that covered Monigle’s findings regarding why consumers choose health systems, we highlighted what the brand consultancy said in the report’s intro about how the dynamics that emerged during the pandemic have changed the healthcare landscape, “and there’s no going back to how it worked before.”

In this post, we’ll dig into why Monigle says “category engagement has gotten more complex,” what that means for the peace of mind consumers crave, and how healthcare brands can help them find it. 

“Category Engagement Has Gotten More Complex”

In Chapter One of the report, “Category Engagement Has Gotten More Complex,” Monigle says that although engagement in healthcare is “stable,” it still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

“That means consumers still aren’t receiving the same emotional reward from care as they were back in 2019; neither are they displaying the same appetite for ‘innovative’ approaches,” report authors write.

They add that although healthcare brands have been working hard to deliver “great care experiences” in healthcare’s rapidly-shifting landscape, “we haven’t been as effective at delivering what consumers crave: peace of mind.”

Monigle says that as consumers are returning for care—many after enduring pandemic-related delays—they’re finding the experiences to be “less emotionally satisfying” than in the past and that the “peace of mind” they’re seeking just isn’t there. 

Reasons cited for this dynamic include: 

  • Locations that are inadequately staffed. 
  • Providers who are burned out. 
  • New approaches to care (“tech and procedures”) that “feel less and less human.”

“This is the new brand battleground: engaging consumers has become more complicated as we try to keep doors open, our people safe (and sane), and our care experiences meaningful,” report authors write.

Seeking Space From the Healthcare Noise

Monigle says pandemic-weary consumers are ready for a break from “all the noise about healthcare” and have a “hunger for  distraction and an orientation toward health and wellness categories like fitness and nutrition. Think self-care, not healthcare.”

Additionally, Monigle says results indicate consumers aren’t as interested in “innovative healthcare” as they were in pre-pandemic years, since just getting basic care “seemed fraught and potentially dangerous.”

“According to our measure of Innovativeness, an element of our Category Engagement battery, consumers returning to the world of health, care, and wellness are less oriented toward the latest and greatest in care,” report authors write. “With so much continued volatility surrounding life these days, it appears a collective hesitancy has formed, and even traditionally early healthcare adopters are taking things more slowly.”

But Monigle says there’s good news, too—since year-over-year trends indicate “the perceived financial value of healthcare and topical interest is recovering.”

In that light, report authors say that as healthcare brands are seeking to rebuild business performance, it will be important to “define what kind of financial value to create.”

In light of rising inflationary pressures, determining how to address “rising cost perceptions” will be an important part of the mix. 

Monigle also pointed out that “some markets are faring better than others” when it comes to consumer health engagement. 

“…so if you want to truly humanize your brand experiences, it will require a market-specific understanding of your unique consumer engagement, behaviors, and needs mix,” according to the report. 

Defining Peace of Mind

But what about that peace of mind consumers crave? 

Report authors say it may be helpful to directly ask, “What does peace of mind mean to you?”

And that post-care surveys may be a great place to do it.

“Once you understand how your consumers define it, you can tailor your approach to bring more emotional value back to your experiences,” Monigle says. 

To learn more about how your healthcare organization can humanize the brand experience, please access the full report.

Contact us today to find out how we can help level up your healthcare marketing strategy.