While a lot has been written about Hispanics and healthcare, particularly in relation to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, not enough attention has been paid to the opportunity they represent. Hispanics are a vital consumer segment for the large and growing healthcare industry, not just a population to be managed.
The expanding population of 55 million Hispanics in the U.S. represents a very different consumer of healthcare. In particular, Hispanics differ from the mainstream as it relates to healthcare consumption in four key ways:
1. Many Hispanics have a cultural uneasiness with the American style of healthcare. They have different expectations for doctor/patient interaction and often need more time with the physician to feel comfortable sharing their questions and concerns.
2. Hispanics have a strong cultural tradition of privacy and individual pride that makes them less likely to proactively engage with the healthcare system.
3. Using health insurance is a foreign way to access and use healthcare services. Immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are more accustomed to a government-run healthcare system.
4. Hispanics are less likely to visit a doctor and have a primary care physician relationship. Fewer than 50% say they have a regular doctor (PwC, 2014).
5. Hispanics have a long cultural history of preferring non-Western medicine – 45% rely on home remedies (Latino Health Care Engagement Project) and 72% never use prescription drugs (U.S. Census, 2012).
Yet many of the differences we see in how Hispanics approach healthcare make them a very attractive segment for the rapidly changing industry.
Hispanics represent a significant and profitable growth market across key areas of the healthcare industry.
Hispanics are changing the healthcare system in significant ways, but they aren’t always seen as an opportunity for business growth and increased profitability. For example, Hispanics are an ideal consumer segment to pilot new healthcare delivery models (e.g. telemedicine or mHealth). By simply focusing on tactics such as translating materials for them, most healthcare organizations are missing the out on the transformational opportunity presented by putting Hispanics at the forefront of their marketing strategies.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Feb. 25, 2016, in Engage:Hispanics.