We are delighted to launch GK and onefourzero’s latest whitepaper on the evolving health market, you can read the full report here: A Private Choice: the changing face of the UK health market
Rising demand for private healthcare driven by easy access and consumer choice
Increasing demand for private healthcare services in the UK is being driven by consumer preferences with austerity having a minor impact, according to a report published today by GK, a Westminster-based political risk and reputation consultancy. Evidence suggests consumers are seeking out private services for cancer treatment, IVF treatment and hip & knee operations at a growing rate.
Using Google searches for private services as a proxy for demand, onefourzero and GK Strategy found that consumer demand for private healthcare has nearly doubled since 2013, growing by 24% between years 2016-2017 alone. Assessing demand data found cancer patients are more likely to go private to receive experimental treatments, while those looking for IVF treatment prefer the convenience offered by the private-pay market. Similarly, despite there being no drop in overall patient outcomes in NHS services, patients undergoing elective hip and knee surgeries cited improved ease of access, immediacy and perceived quality as the main reasons for switching.
As these trends are set to continue, there is an increasing likelihood of mixing NHS and private services for patients during the same course of treatment. Evidence for this comes from a range of different services:
Hip & Knee Replacements
Overall the report suggests that patients are becoming more like consumers in their preferences, attaching value to accessibility, convenience and choice.
Commenting Justin Ash, Chairman of GK Strategy and former CEO of Oasis Dental and Lloyds Pharmacies, said:
“GK and onefourzero are able to read the digital voice of consumers and has found a growing desire for access to private care. This challenges providers in the sector to develop high-quality private pay offers to meet these consumer needs. ”
Commenting Emily Wallace, CEO at GK Strategy, said:
“It’s clear from our research that patients are increasingly opting to pay for services privately and that they are primarily attracted by the ease of access and availability of treatment on offer. As financial constraint and pressures in the NHS continue to grow, we anticipate that private pay is likely to be a growing part of our health economy.
People increasingly see paying for healthcare as a way of catering to their own preferences – prioritising convenience over other factors. Convenience remains the main key differentiating factor as the NHS continues to deliver high-quality patient outcomes despite severe financial stringencies.”
Commenting Fleur Hicks, Managing Director of onefourzero, said:
“We are beginning to see similar trends within the part-privatised sector as we are within the consumer sector. Patients might be more accurately thought of as consumers given their demand for immediacy in everything from booking to advice to faultless service.
Patient-consumers are more willing to pay for private treatment in order to meet their high demands. This is evidenced in their behaviour and sentiment, which we have tracked online. The question then becomes whether or not the private health sector can sustain this demand along with the efficiencies, without having to pass on too much of the cost to patients, which could then stimulate a reverse effect.”
*Note that this is for private-pay rather than a private provider delivering free at the point of need services alongside the NHS.