At Novant Health, consumerism is more than a theoretical concept to be addressed in the future. The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based system is taking an active approach to preparing for when patients take on a larger role in health care decision-making.

Novant wants to be ready for the changes that consumerization will bring to keep patients and populations as healthy as possible, as described by two of its top executives in a Facebook Live event during the Spotlight Health segment of the Aspen (Colo.) Institute's Ideas Festival last week.

“Health care today is where banking was 25-30 years ago,” said Jesse Cureton, chief consumer officer for Novant and a former banking executive, in an interview led by Jay Bhatt, D.O., chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association. Health care is “an industry that is highly regulated, an industry that’s looking at its consumers differently and an industry that needs to leverage technology over bricks and mortar,” Cureton said.

But Novant is doing more than using technology to prepare for this change, officials are enlisting its workforce and medical staff, getting them as engaged as possible in the transformation. “We’re investing in our team members, we’re investing in our physicians,” said Carl Armato, president and CEO. Novant wants them to lead the change, own the change, not just accept it, he said.

In addition, to inform and help prepare its leadership, clinicians and other staffers for the consumerization of health care, Novant has grouped its patient consumers into three general categories, Cureton said.

In addition to what system officials call the traditional patient — one who is in the system and known to the system, Novant segments nonpatients and those who are enthusiastic patients. Cureton said, “We have to start talking to the (nonpatient) consumers so that they can start thinking about us long before they need us.”

Meanwhile, the enthusiastic patient has established a relationship with the hospital or its providers that is strong enough to be considered a client. Those patients require their own kind of attention, Cureton said.