The “new” American healthcare consumer is more in control, takes a more holistic view, is redefining aging to be ageless, and is shifting perspective from health to wellness and beyond.
~ Paul O’Neill, president at Ogilvy CommonHealth Wellness Marketing
For doctors still beholden to old-school healthcare, those may be fighting words but the evidence suggests that it’s going to be a losing battle. As O’Neill suggests in a recent blog post, today’s patients are, indeed, healthcare consumers. Armed with information, faced with an array of choices, and taking an increasingly active role in their healthcare, they’re willing to “shop” until they find exactly what they’re looking for.
Cosmetic surgery captures that evolution perfectly. Unlike a broken bone or chronic cough, no one needs to get Botox or a breast aug immediately so it should come as no surprise that aesthetic consumers take their time to decide. And while O’Neill doesn’t reference specific disciplines, the underlying trends he discusses clearly apply to aesthetic medicine.
From health to wellness to well-being
As O’Neill describes it, well-being is not a destination but rather “the active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” And studies show that more people do, indeed, equate health with well-being. Doctors who adapt to the shift — sharing insights on healthy habits before and after surgery, for example — demonstrate a holistic approach that resonates with today’s healthcare consumers.
Increased self-reliance (ready or not)
By definition, making choices to achieve well-being requires a more active role on the part of would-be patients, although we’d disagree with the “ready or not” aspect when it comes to aesthetic medicine. From their willingness to forgo alcohol and smoking before surgery to their descriptions of gathering supplies to aid recovery, the stories people share on RealSelf offer clear evidence that many aesthetic consumers accept their newfound accountability and embrace their expanded role in their own care.
Better informed but challenged by decision making
“As consumers have become more responsible for driving their own well-being,” says O’Neill, “there has been a coincidental explosion in the amount of relevant information available to them.” That’s putting it mildly. Unfortunately, there’s also no shortage of inaccurate and/or agenda-driven information circulating on the Internet. On the other hand, the 8 million unique visits per month to RealSelf suggest that savvy aesthetic consumers know where to turn to get the facts.
Aesthetic consumers seek well-being — and doctors who can help them achieve it
Even as aesthetic consumers take a more active role in their care, they still rely on doctors to help them understand their options, set reasonable expectations, and separate fact from fiction. Doctors who share their expertise throughout the process help them become more confident consumers — confident that they’re getting good information, confident that they’re making the right decision regarding procedures and providers, and confident in their pursuit of lifelong well-being.