SMG + Catalyst Healthcare Research | Why healthcare? Why now?

Chris Egan | Sep 26, 2017 Chris Egan 09/26/17

In case you missed it, SMG recently made headlines with the acquisition of Nashville-based Catalyst Healthcare Research (CHR). While VP of Customer Engagement Dan Prince has already shared his thoughts on the partnership, I think it’s important to explain how we envision the move ultimately impacting our business. After all, SMG prides itself on being a strategic partner, and while that typically means delivering technology and insights that lead to more informed initiatives for our clients, we strive to be transparent about our own strategies, too.



The “retail-ization” of healthcare 

With retail clinic locations having increased 38% in the last five years, there’s no denying the healthcare and retail industries are converging more and more every day. Part of that can be attributed to the rise in high-deductible plans, which means employees are paying more out-of-pocket for healthcare services—and adopting a consumer mindset to make the best purchase decisions.


What that means for providers is that they now have to deliver the same elements that drive retail loyalty behaviors:

  • Convenience: Consumers—particularly younger demographics who are 50% less likely to have primary care providers—don’t want to go through the whole appointment process. They’re more likely to visit quick-stop retail clinics and convenient/urgent care centers instead.
  • Value: With rapidly increasing healthcare costs and the rising trend of value-based care, consumers are avid about—and adept at—finding the best value for their money.
  • Great experiences: Retail is in the “Age of the Customer,” which means brands have to shape experiences to expectations if they want loyal customers. Now that’s true for the patient experience, too.

So what’s the quickest path to insight on how to deliver a great experience? Measuring it. We know because we’ve been helping brands measure and improve customer experiences since 1991. The majority of that experience has been in retail and service-oriented industries—but we’re not exactly new to the healthcare space. In 2011, we launched a ratings and review site based on patient surveys, and we already work with a number of clients that incorporate healthcare-related services into their retail operations.

That said, partnering with CHR gives us immediate domain expertise and instant access to HIPAA-compliant research best practices. In turn, we’re able to leverage our cross-touchpoint measurement technologies, as well as our extensive experience in traditional retail and service-based verticals, to help healthcare clients inspire loyalty amid changing market dynamics.


Taking the long view on SMG’s growth strategy

SMG has seen an exciting amount of growth lately, onboarding approximately 60 new brands per year over the last 3 years. That’s allowed us to make some key technology investments that have helped us better serve our clients—whether it’s through new capabilities or increased cost efficiency. While there will always be new brands to partner with, we know that to sustain that growth and continue to make those client-focused investments, we ultimately need to expand into new categories as well. 

Few industries can match the explosive growth potential of healthcare. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2024, $1 in every $5 spent in the U.S. will be spent on healthcare services, and nearly 1 in every 7 employees in the U.S. will work in the industry. But we also know that when organizations prioritize growing their client base over serving it, they leave themselves susceptible to churn and vulnerable to competitors. Fortunately, as the healthcare model mirrors the retail model more closely, we’re finding the measurement and reporting tools we’re investing in are a fit for both industries, which means we can grow within the space without reallocating resources in a way that negatively affects our clients.



Keeping our clients first

We’re excited about all of the new partnerships we’ve been able to launch over the last several years. But the number we’re most proud of—and the one you probably hear us tout most often—is our 98% client retention rate.

We attribute that to the fact that we do exactly what we try to help our clients do: listen to customers and act on what they tell us. From fine-tuning reporting tools to get more targeted insights to expanding measurement capabilities across digital touchpoints, we serve our clients by making sure they’re positioned to serve their customers—no matter how they interact.

We’re excited to put that passion into practice in a new industry, and find ways to help healthcare service providers build better patient experiences.

Chris Egan
President + COO

Customer Experience Update