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Understand the health care consumer to understand the market

Industry Experts at ConferenceIndustry experts addressed “The Business of Healthcare: Adapting to an Aging Economy” 2017 conference organized by the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to share ideas and gain perspective on issues facing by the health care industry.

In a breakout session, four panelists, all from health care consulting backgrounds, spoke about what lies ahead in health care and pharmacy marketing in the U.S.

The panelists were Candy Lurken of Deloitte’s Life Sciences & Healthcare Strategy Consulting Practice; Jon Kaplan, senior partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group; Alex Gray, a member of the principal market development team at Echo Health Ventures; and Robert Furburg, a research health informaticist at RTI International.

These experts agreed: To understand the future of the health care market, you must understand the state of the healthcare consumer.

Pharma and health care are unique industries, notes Kaplan, because they haven’t seen the disruption you might expect when looking at the dissatisfaction with the current system.

Furburg spends his days at RTI International, an independent, nonprofit research firm, researching the increasing sophistication of the consumer when it comes to public health and medicine. He cites the recent rise in wearable technology as an example of the phenomenon.

Gray’s work developing investable themes at Echo Health Ventures led him to identify a trend: “Health care is becoming more and more convenient and consumer driven,” citing the urgent-care company FastMed as an example.

“How many people would wait three hours for anything?” Kaplan asks rhetorically. We’ll “only do it for health care” because we haven’t quite reached that peak of frustration that would kickstart disruption in the industry, he says.

Lurken shared three trends that she’s identified that will drive towards better overall outcomes in pharma.

  • Delivery: Sophisticated consumers will demand personalized medicine, such as genetically assisted prescribing.
  • Engagement: Personalized marketing tactics resonate best with consumers, resulting in higher levels of engagement.
  • Patient adherence: Understand what motivates (or fails to motivate) patients to follow prescribed regimens.

By Madeline Stefan (BA ’18)