By Toni J. EberhardtAfter spending 15 years in competitive consumer-facing industries including financial services, wireless telecommunications and big box retail, I entered health care and was consistently told this industry was “far more complex” and what I knew from these other “retail” industries was not applicable. Having worked in marketing and public relations in five different industries, I can tell you all of these industries have at least one thing in common: consumers. The same person that is making a choice between Verizon and AT&T Wireless is also making a choice between physicians and hospitals. So, if the same person is making the choice, why do we in health care think that how that choice is made is so different?Other industries have been dependent on consumer choice for much longer than health care. After all, when choosing where to bank, consumers are not limited by a bank being “in-network,” and consumers have had multiple choices- commercial banks, savings and loans and credit unions. For many years in health care, choices were limited for patients. Health insurance companies had narrow networks and alternatives, such as urgent care, were not readily available.That has all changed. Welcome to consumerism, health care. In the age of consumerism, I’ll share best practices health care can borrow from retail to help them connect with consumers.Best Practice #1 is create a signature experience. Check back next week for a blog focused on this retail best practice.Toni J. Eberhardt is the founder and president of Prescriptive Communications, LLC. Armed with an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Ms. Eberhardt has nearly 25 years’ experience in marketing strategy and communications, public relations, crisis communications and public affairs in more than five industries with Fortune 500 companies. After 15 years in competitive consumer-facing industries including telecommunications, financial services and big box retail, she brought her experience to health care. Ms. Eberhardt has worked in health care for ten years as a marketing and public relations executive with McKesson, Banner Health and FastMed Urgent Care.