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2012 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers: Segmentation INFOBrief

Six consumer segments navigate the health care system in very different ways; significant implications for stakeholders


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Health care organizations traditionally segment their market based on demographics, insurance status, or health measures. But we suggest that what matters most is behavior.

To supplement its 2012 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers, Deloitte offers an INFOBrief and an Infographic that take an in-depth look at six health care consumer segments, how they navigate the system in very different ways, and the implications for industry stakeholders.

The “content and compliant” and “sick and savvy” segments tend to behave like “patients,” not particularly inclined to challenge a professional’s recommendation and query clinicians. The “casual and cautious” are simply not engaged because they don’t see the need. The other three segments show characteristics of activism, certainly disruptive to a system more comfortable with patients than consumers. “Out and about” consumers actively seek and use alternative, non-Western medicine, often without the knowledge of their clinicians; “online and onboard” use online tools and mobile applications to assess providers and compare treatment options and provider competence; “shop and save” is the value purchaser who is not content with paying more than necessary under any non-emergency scenario.

Segmentation offers insights into consumers’ behaviors and attitudes – critical information in an environment where health care is moving rapidly towards patient-centered care, which is premised upon individuals becoming more active participants in managing in their health care.

  • Awareness of consumers’ preferences and styles need to be taken into consideration and strategies to encourage and support consumer engagement in health care are important for providers, health plans, and bio-pharma companies.
  • Increased access to health information can help consumers make better and more informed decisions, leading to better quality of care, health outcomes, and satisfaction with care.
  • A more informed consumer may go some way towards reducing health costs.
  • Segments give valuable “clues” as to how health care organizations may more specifically target and personalize products and services for health care consumers.

The new behavior-based market segments cut across traditional categories based on demographics, insurance status, or health measures. What people in each category have in common is how they think and act. Health care customer/client bases are likely to include a varying mix of the six consumer segments. Meeting the preferences, needs, and demands of each segment may require innovative and tailored products and services, marketing approaches, business strategies, and customer service models.

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