What is hyperconsumerism in healthcare and why should leaders care

Nicholas Webb

CEO, LeaderLogic, LLC

What is hyperconsumerism in healthcare and why should leaders care

28 September 2022 | 9min

Quick Takes

  • Hyperconsumerism is changing the way healthcare is delivered

  • The way to win at hyperconsumerism is to make patient and employee experience beautiful and well above the baseline level of their expectation

  • Situation analysis, setting key objectives, and implementing a smart strategy is the key to rapidly improving patient experience and the employee experience

Consumers are demanding better experiences both at the patient and the employee levels. If your organization isn’t the organization of choice, then your organization, department, or even enterprise is at risk. More and more technology companies, with experience in consumerism, are investing in healthcare and may soon be your competition rather than the clinic or hospital down the street.

We had the privilege of meeting with Nicholas Webb, one of the most in-demand speakers. His medical designs are used by hospitals and doctors around the world every day. Additionally, Nicholas is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) through the internationally accredited Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional (SSBBP).

Listen as Nicholas shares deep insights into how hyperconsumerism is affecting healthcare systems and why and how leaders should encompass it into their strategy. 

Watch the video or read the full article below.

1. What do leaders need to know about hyperconsumerism?

2. What are some case examples of how hyperconsumerism is impacting healthcare?

3. How can healthcare organizations institutionalize consumerism effectively?

What do leaders need to know about hyperconsumerism?

Nicholas Webb:  Let’s take, for example, optometry. For years, you would pick up your phone, and call the optometrist or ophthalmology office to get an eye exam. On average, it takes 7 to 10 days to get an appointment. Once you get there at an inconvenient time, a week later, you sit in their exam room for 45 minutes on average (some studies suggest even longer) – this is despite the fact that recent studies say that if a patient waits more than 15 minutes to be seen in an exam room, they go from liking you to not liking you.1

Then, you get into the exam lane and you get your eyes checked, and then of course the final episode of that experience oftentimes is what I call the “cashectomy”. You get sold Gucci glasses that you didn’t want. That’s historically what optometry and ophthalmology eye exams look like. 

Now, I’ve been in ophthalmology and optometry for years and have tremendous respect for them because they do amazing work. Unfortunately, a new app came out called Opternative. It is licensed in most (American) states and allows you to hold your cell phone up, look at your screen and do an eye exam with your computer in about the time it takes for you to make an appointment and without having to spend money with them. 

Opternative receives a 98.6% happy customer rating, meaning 98.6% of those customers love the approach. I’m far from advocating this but I’m highlighting what’s happening. Why are medical practices being displaced by an app? Well, the answer is, that patients are consumerized. During COVID, they would press a few buttons on Amazon and everything they want shows up at their door, sometimes that same day or next. They put a few more thumb movements on their phone, their groceries are at their door.

They have been taught to believe that a consumer experience should be beautiful, relevant, and friction-free, and that’s what we’re doing with healthcare. They simply took advantage of the fact that people did not want to go through the friction of waiting to get seen, waiting for an hour once they got to an optometric practice, only to get an update on their contact lens prescription. Anybody that needs to get an eye exam should get a real eye exam with a real optometrist or ophthalmologist because we want them to be in front of a slit lamp, we want them to get tonometry, and so on. 

However, in certain cases where there aren’t counter-indicational reasons, it can elongate a prescription for spectacles or contact lenses as I understand it. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are regularly losing opportunities to serve patients because of a connected device. 

What are some case examples of how hyperconsumerism is impacting healthcare?

Nicholas Webb:  I have four kids and three of them got (dental) braces to straighten their teeth. They went to an orthodontist who charged $7,000, and I had to agree to go to his office 35 times for him to adjust the braces and give them straight teeth. During this time of disruptive innovation in dentistry, new market segments of orthodontics were created.  The Intel’s Smile Direct Club and other organizations came and said, “Well, wait a minute. Why don’t you just call us, and we’ll send you this impression kit. You make impressions. Then we’ll send you clear liners and your kid can do this. You don’t have to ever come to the dental office or pay $7,500, we’ll only charge you $2,500.” Less money, zero friction. It’s a no-brainer for most parents and, because of that, it’s displaced a lot of practices.

Ultimately it will change the practice of orthodontics because you can get your kids’ teeth straight and have the same clinical outcome for a fraction of the friction and a fraction of the money. Hyperconsumerism is affecting virtually everything. 

In the case of hearing aids, it used to be that you’d get in your car after making an appointment with the audiologist, and go to where they would do a simple assessment and prescribe a hearing aid. That was a long process and had a lot of friction, it was expensive, and because of that, new technologies like Eargo came out.

Eargo provides a similar solution to Smile Direct Club for dentistry by providing hearing aids that are FDA approved and top-notch technology with a call to their customer service department. 

What we see in hyperconsumerism is the reduction of all things friction and we need to do friction assessments. What can we do to reduce the pain, friction, and irrelevancy in the way in which we deliver value to our customers? 

At the end of the day, you are selling a product and that product must be relevant, and the pricing must be transparent. It must have a high degree oftentimes of customization. It has to be presented to consumers in a way that’s relevant to their persona. We have to serve them over five well-defined customer touchpoints across their clinical or surgical journey. We must map that out to understand how we can make it better. 

In fact, the best organizations are doing three things:

  1. Developing thoughtful personification and descriptions of the patients so they can understand their needs, problems, and opportunities. 
  2. Journey mapping and looking at the pre-touch moment, the first touch moment, the core moment, the last touch moment, and the in-touch moment. These are the various five touch points that consumers engage with. 

We need to make those experiences beautiful and well above the baseline level of their expectation. When we do that, we can really win at hyperconsumerism.

How can healthcare organizations institutionalize consumerism effectively?

Nicholas Webb: One of the challenges that we have when we think about consumerism, is historical bias. We assume that consumerism is better waiting rooms or an app. The problem is that most organizations in healthcare don’t tend to see the vastness of the change within consumerism, so they make incremental changes in a time of rapid environmental change. 

The way to address this is to start with what I call an SOS approach. The SOS approach starts with a situational summary or situational analysis of where are you right now. What is your current level of satisfaction? That goes beyond using your traditional promoter score data or patient survey data. We need to deploy a wide range of new methods to get far better insights if we want to fix the problems and improve our Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHP) scores and the way in which we serve these amazing patients. 

One of the ways to do that is through a patient hackathon, where you bring your team together, patient-facing stakeholders, and go through personification and understanding of these different personas.  

We serve many different types of people and, unfortunately, and historically, we would pigeonhole people based on outdated, old-fashioned market demographics. Today we need to understand who these patients are from the things that they love and hate, want and don’t want. If you break it up into what we now call hate/love personas, we can do a far better job of taking those insights and transmuting them into new innovations, and that’s what it means to be a customer experience or CX innovator.

Now, you can apply these same principles to the way in which you architect beautiful experiences for your employees. We need to realize that if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant, it’s hard for that restaurant to deliver a great experience if the people that are working there are unhappy or in pain. 

Many of the stakeholders in healthcare are at the highest level of stress they’ve ever been. We haven’t done the kinds of things that we need to help get them to a better place so when we think about customer experience, most people do it fractionally. They look at it from a patient experience perspective, which means let’s get slightly better than we used to be.

How can executives and leaders internalize a consumer approach to healthcare: The SOS step-wise approach

Nicholas Webb: If you look at it from a consumer approach, you realize that the bar is much higher and that they want new things. They want transparency, financial transparency. They want relevancy and customization. They want friction freedom. They want the humanity of the experience, not just the mechanics of the clinical care. 

It’s so important that we understand that and create new insights. Hackathons are a great way to go but there are other ways to get insights as well that go far beyond surveys and the scope of what we can talk about today. We have to start with that SOS approach, situational summary.

1. Identify what you know now about where the problems are, and what your patients and stakeholders care about. 

2. Start to set objectives. What do you want to do about it? Do you want to develop a matrix that your organization will measure to improve your current state? 

In other words, identify your current state of employee and customer happiness. Then develop specific goals and tactics for your stated goal to significantly improve the experience. The matrix can include, thoughtful employee surveys, listening sessions, and ethnographic observations.

3. Define the strategy and how you will deploy it?

 Situation analysis, setting key objectives, and implementing a smart strategy is the key to rapidly improving patient experience and the employee experience. This increases productivity, presenteeism, and patient attraction. It eliminates patient deflection. It improves your social radiance and your ability to drive efficiency and reduce cost.

Everything we want to do as leaders come from the way in which we fundamentally address the substrate of our business, which of course is our customers, our patients, and the amazing stakeholders that serve our mission every day, our employees. If we can get that right, we are well ahead of the game in terms of being ready for chaotic innovation.

Learn more insights from Nicholas Webb on Healthcare Transformers: 

Nicholas Webb is a number one best-selling author and is one of the most popular Innovation, Healthcare, Future-trends, and Customer Experience Speakers in the world. Nick is the CEO of LeaderLogic, LLC, a Management Consulting Firm that provides consulting services to the top brands in the world. Nick works shoulder-to-shoulder with boards of directors of multibillion-dollar companies to assist them in building future-ready organizations. Nick began his career as a successful technologist creating award-winning innovations in healthcare, consumer, and industrial technologies. He has been awarded over 40 Patents by the U.S. Patent Office for various landmark technologies. Nick is also a prolific best-selling author that has been published by many prestigious publishers. Nick is the author of What Customers Crave, The Innovation Mandate, What Customers Hate, Happy Work, and his number one bestselling book, The Healthcare Mandate. Nick has served as a Chief Innovation Officer and an Adjunct Professor at a top medical school. Nicholas was awarded his Doctorate of Humane Letters (hon.) for his contributions in healthcare. Additionally, One of Nick’s goals was to create a healthcare documentary and his film titled, “The Healthcare Cure” was released in 2021 and recently won the Sedona International Film Festival’s “Audience Choice Award”, Most Impactful Film.


  1. Thomas Jefferson University Online (2019). Article available from https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/sponsored/how-patient-wait-times-affect-customer-satisfaction [Accessed September 2022]