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Understanding your Healthcare Audience - Patient, Consumer, or Human?

March 15, 2022 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team

Traditionally, healthcare marketers talked about "patient experience" within their industry. The focus has recently shifted to "consumer experience," and the reason is clear: retail giants continue pushing into the healthcare space, and with them, retail practices and an improved consumer experience.

Before being a patient, a person is a customer looking for the greatest healthcare alternative, just as they do in other retail industries. However, even before they become customers, they are individuals with distinct motives and challenges. They act on deeper internal impulses rather than just following the doctor's advice.

Patients are three-dimensional: they are patients, consumers, and people. They are, nevertheless, first and foremost, humans.

The Difference Between Patient, Consumer, and Human

  • Patient-Centric Care

    The goal of any health care system is to provide "patient-centered care" that is focused on quality improvement and improved outcomes. Patients do better with connected care, so this reaches the very heart of the healthcare system. Clinical and operational services primarily drive patient-centric care: "How can we best serve the patient? and while it ultimately benefits the patient, it is not readily apparent to the patient and therefore doesn't influence their decision.

    Patient-centric care includes things like:

    • Multi-Disciplinary Clinics: These clinics allow newly diagnosed cancer patients to see all of the specialists they'll need in one visit, rather than five separate visits.
    • Patient education materials: include information on wound care, chronic condition management, etc.
    • Discharge Instructions: To assist patients with understanding the following steps to take.
    • Family Caregiver Involvement: At the point when friends and family are involved, patient results are better.
  • Consumer-Centric Experience

    The consumer-centric experience helps patients understand and choose the right treatment. Rather than just considering episodic needs, it considers patients' healthcare journey (not just episodes) and how they decide who to choose based on ease/convenience and emotional considerations, such as, "Who do you feel is a trustworthy healthcare advisor?"

    Consumer-centric experience includes things like:

    • Ease: The goal should be to design digital processes and content around the patient journey, including strong find-a-doctor data, clear pathways to alternative care options, such as virtual visits and urgent care, online scheduling and intake forms, appointment reminders, and any functionality that facilitates easy next steps.
    • Nurture: EstabEstablishish a relationship with the patient that extends beyond episodic visits, such as building proactive outreach.
    • Transparency: Healthcare purchases are particularly convoluted; as patients continue to assume greater financial responsibility for their care, they increasingly expect cost transparency.
    • Customer Service: Provide feedback channels, respond to concerns, and resolve issues in a way that is convenient for them.
  • Empathy for People

    To be 'human-first', you must remember the people who are your patients, acknowledge their feelings, and consider their larger motivations and challenges. At the end of the day, health goals are based on larger - human - motivations. The goal of people wanting to be healthy is not just to be healthy or because the doctor told them to be healthy - they want to be healthy to be able to be with their families and friends, do the things they love, and enjoy life's moments. However, you also have to deal with human challenges unique to each individual. Humans are creatures of habit, influenced by the environment that surrounds them, as well as different biological tendencies. Being human-first should be evident in every aspect of healthcare - from human-to-human interactions to the tone you use.


Because ultimately healthcare is about people feeling better, recovering from illnesses, and enjoying wellness, you must be aware of these differences. To improve patient and consumer experiences, health systems must move beyond tactical fixes and individual care encounters. Patient and consumer journeys must be better connected across all channels and stages. To do so, silos must be broken down between clinical services and across hospital departments (both clinical and non-clinical).

In other words:

  • The responsibility for providing patient-centered care cannot be confined to clinicians alone.
  • The consumer-centric experience can't be confined to just the web and marketing.
  • First and foremost, patients are people.

Marketing professionals need to focus on the patient experience and consumer experience, but first and foremost, they must remember that we are all human. In the end, being human-first means focusing on the patient journey and the healthcare personas - the actual people who use your health system.

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