Creating market relevance: 6 tips to build 1st touch strategies

Health systems are losing their relevant position as new, non-traditional competitors meet the healthcare consumer demands for access, convenience and service.

For years there has been talk of consumerism in healthcare. While traditional health providers seem to still be skeptical, venture capital is pouring into new health-consumer focused startups and non-traditional providers. Consider that today, healthcare makes up nearly 25% of all venture capital funding and funding for healthcare startups has increased 125% and nearly 200% respectively in 2014 and 2015. Traditional health systems that are not responding are seeing their market relevance decline.

To strengthen market relevance, the nation's health systems must embrace the consumer access, convenience and service demands and seek novel ways and partnerships to meet these demands. At the forefront are partnerships and strategies to engage consumers at their first healthcare touch points. These 1st touch points are important to health systems because their populations are most impressionable when they first touch the healthcare system. As a result, who first "touches" the consumer has broad influence over how that person's care will proceed, which health system they will use and, in risk-based models, to which provider the patient will be attributed for payment.

Historically the "1st touch" typically occurred in a primary care office, many of whom are now employed by the health systems. Now, the healthcare consumers increasingly have a broad range of options meeting their unique timing, acuity, and convenience needs including urgent care centers, retail clinics, through virtual care portals, hospital-based and free-standing emergency rooms, and the traditional scheduled primary care clinics.

1st Touch Graphic

As a result, health systems that want to influence their populations' healthcare, must consider a robust 1st touch strategy that incorporates urgent care, retail, virtual, emergency room, and traditional primary care clinics.

6 Tips on How to Begin


Kate Lovrien and Luke C. Peterson are principals at Health System Advisors. They can be contacted at or Health System Advisors is a strategy think tank and consulting firm with a mission to advise leaders, advance organizations, and transform the healthcare industry. For more information contact HSA at 877.776.3639 or

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