Google announced recently it would begin competing with Amazon as a grocery-delivery service. On the same day, Amazon announced it was offering free, one-hour delivery of restaurant orders to Seattle Amazon Prime customers. The Internet economy has ushered in an arms race for compelling consumer value. For companies like Amazon and Google, that means continually finding quicker and smoother ways for people to get the things they want the most. For hospitals, it means taking a hard look at their own value proposition in an environment of heightened competition and consumer expectations.
In the past, the health care business model made hospitals largely immune from the need to address consumer needs with a compelling value proposition. Today, however, all that has changed. Like any other company, hospitals face demands from all their customers for more convenient services and lower prices, while such nontraditional competitors as retail clinics, urgent care centers and telehealth companies are entering the fray with value propositions that attempt to distinguish their services from those of legacy providers.
Building a Value Proposition
To develop a compelling value proposition, a company must identify five key elements:
· an important customer segment;
· a customer need, usually something that is highly desired and problematic to achieve;
· the pain associated with pursuing, or with not fulfilling, the need;
· the benefit of fulfilling the need;
· (the most difficult) a product or service that helps the customer avoid the pain and fulfill the need in a manner that is better than what any other product or service provides.
Let’s apply this concept to just one Amazon service. The Amazon Dash Button is a physical button that Amazon Prime members can mount near household essentials like laundry detergent, pet food and toilet paper. When you notice your supply running low, you simply press the Dash Button, and an order for the item is placed.
For the Dash Button, the customer segment is fairly broad — Amazon Prime members. As described in an April 2, 2015, blog post on the Strategyzer website, the need customers are trying to fulfill is keeping their household supplied with essential items. The pain points are determining when supplies are running out, making the trek to the local store to restock and running out of an item when it’s most needed. The benefits of accomplishing this task are having supplies on hand when they are needed and having time available for more valuable pursuits. The distinguishing value is the ease with which the Dash Button helps people to achieve these benefits — an ease that no other service can match.
The Traditional Hospital Value Proposition
In the past, hospitals have articulated their value proposition in terms of high quality and patient satisfaction. Quality typically has been determined by adherence to best practices, achievement of desired outcomes and avoidance of undesirable outcomes. Patient satisfaction typically has been measured by such factors as caregiver communication, staff responsiveness, adequacy of pain management and acceptability of the environment.
Another key to a hospital’s traditional value has been its relationship with the people in the community. Hospitals have long been a trusted community partner and asset not only as care providers, but also as large employers.
For hospitals’ nontraditional competitors, the value proposition is very different. Telehealth company Doctor On Demand uses the motto, “See a doctor now — without leaving home.” Primary care chain One Medical Group employs the statement, “We’ve redesigned the primary care experience around you, combining clinical excellence with a modern approach.” CVS MinuteClinics offer “convenient, affordable, high-quality care.” Upstart lab company Theranos seeks to “make actionable information accessible to everyone at the time it matters.”
Unlike the traditional hospital value proposition, those of nontraditional competitors are tightly aligned with the Internet economy. They focus intently on the consumer’s perspective. They promise to alleviate traditional pain points such as inconvenience and high cost. They promise benefits ranging from the immediate (prompt access to high-quality care) to the aspirational (control over your health and health care). And they promise to deliver this value in a way that traditional providers cannot.