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Hispanics are huge market for healthcare companies

Staff writer |
More than 10 million Hispanics are eligible to gain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, representing unparalleled opportunity for businesses aiming to succeed in new health economy.

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This according to "Hispanics: A growing force in the New Health Economy" a new report from PwC's Health Research Institute (HRI). The report highlights the enormous opportunity and challenges that traditional healthcare organizations – clinicians, health systems, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers – as well as new market entrants – face when addressing the Hispanic market.

"Hispanics have tremendous consumer purchasing power, but our research shows that they have also been more likely than other consumers to delay health care, and don't have great trust in the U.S. health system," said Frank Lemmon, principal, PwC US health industries.

"As the health industry shifts in how and where care is delivered – in many cases closer to home – these long-standing behaviors and attitudes are ripe for change. Hispanics have increased buying power, and represent a sizeable opportunity for both traditional and non-traditional healthcare companies. HRI's report makes clear that companies should have focused strategies for capturing this largely untapped source of revenue."

In spring 2014, HRI and PwC's Entertainment, Media, and Communications (EMC) practice set out to better understand Hispanic consumer attitudes and behaviors in the rapidly changed media, technology, and healthcare landscape. The research included a nationwide survey of 500 Hispanics and 500 non-Hispanic consumers, focus groups of Hispanics and non-Hispanics in Dallas and New York City, social media monitoring, and interviews with industry professionals.

"Our research identified a range of cultural and consumer preference factors that differentiate Hispanic healthcare consumers," said Randy Delgado, director, PwC US health industries. "Respecting the nuances of this diverse market will be critical for companies looking to build trust and market share among the Hispanic population."

"Hispanics: A growing force in the New Health Economy" revealed six key consumer insights that healthcare companies need to consider regarding the Hispanic market. On average, cost is most important to Hispanics when it comes to care, while quality is most important for non-Hispanics. 46% Hispanics vs. 35% non-Hispanics consider cost most important; 53% non-Hispanics vs. 42% Hispanics consider quality most important.

Hispanics are less likely than other consumers to use a doctor as primary caregiver when facing a non-emergency condition (66% vs. 76%), and they are more open to using community health clinics in their neighborhood, non-traditional settings such as retail clinics, and alternative caregivers such as pharmacists.

More Hispanics than non-Hispanics use social media, mobile apps and Internet searches to find information about doctors and insurance companies, and Hispanics are more likely to be influenced by the information when making decisions about care and insurance plans.

Hispanics are less likely to share personal information than other consumers. Regardless of benefits they might receive, 33% of Hispanics said that they are not willing to share personal information compared to 26% of other consumers.

Hispanics are more likely than other consumers to live in multi-generational households and may be helping manage others' health conditions – quite possibly individuals who lack familiarity with the U.S. health system.

Regardless of income, education, and insurance status, some Hispanics would rather cross borders to seek care, and travel to their birth countries to buy lower-cost medications for the entire family.

Based on these insights, HRI suggests that healthcare companies should consider embedding four key elements in their strategies to reach the Hispanic segment. Recognize that non-traditional health businesses, or new entrants, might have an advantage. Perhaps more than any other consumer group, Hispanics are cost conscious, mobile savvy, and do not necessarily seek healthcare within the traditional $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system.

Realize that all healthcare companies looking to reach the Hispanic market will have to work harder to earn their trust. Partnerships with trusted community-based organizations will be essential to extending companies' future success with a group that is less likely to share personal information.

The Hispanic community socializes, communicates, researches and purchases in cyberspace – and healthcare companies should consider tapping into existing social and mobile platforms that are popular with Hispanics.

Hispanics are not a uniform group.Businesses should develop strategies for different Hispanic ethnicities and generations, and for addressing ingrained habits and cultural preferences.