Healthcare Consumerism: The New Imperative for Providers
With the advent of healthcare consumerism – a movement to make the delivery of healthcare services more efficient and cost-effective, the U.S. is about to embark upon a new era where consumers are more knowledgeable of the medical services and play an active role in purchasing and consuming the services that they receive. What is [...]
With the advent of healthcare consumerism – a movement to make the delivery of healthcare services more efficient and cost-effective, the U.S. is about to embark upon a new era where consumers are more knowledgeable of the medical services and play an active role in purchasing and consuming the services that they receive.
What is healthcare consumerism?
The concept of consumerism in healthcare is recent, with references to patients as “consumers” dating back to the early 20th century. Healthcare consumerism transforms an employer’s health benefit plan by giving plan participants the primary decision-making power. The ultimate goal of healthcare consumerism is to enable patients to actively be a part of their healthcare decisions.
However, many plans fail to understand or ask consumers about how they consume healthcare services. As a result, patients tend to pay little attention to cost since they only have a limited role in the healthcare decision. Furthermore, usually patients prefer to stay away from managing their own health information; instead, they are eager to be cared for by an efficient healthcare system that respects their preferences. In order to develop more meticulous healthcare users, healthcare providers must provide information, financial incentives, and decision-making tools to allow consumers to make educated healthcare purchasing decisions.
Objectives of healthcare consumerism
According to healthcare industry experts at Infiniti Research, healthcare consumerism is designed to:
- Promote closer communications and cooperation between healthcare professionals and patients
- Encourage patient buy-in and compliance with treatment recommendations
- Increase knowledge and awareness of lifestyle and wellness practices among patients
- Focus increasingly on preventative medicine by encouraging healthy activities and habits
Healthcare consumerism: boon or bane?
The era of consumerism in healthcare has arrived. Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, health newsletters from leading hospitals and medical schools, and, most importantly, the near-ubiquity of the Internet have made it easy for consumers to obtain information about their medical conditions and possible treatments. This presents healthcare providers and patients with both challenges and opportunities.
Some studies suggest that healthcare consumerism can negatively affect the quality of patient-doctor communications. A clash of opinion could arise when the patient’s preconceptions do not match with the doctor’s assessment. Perhaps less information gets effectively exchanged. Even when more information is in fact exchanged, the patient may discount what he or she hears from the doctor. Furthermore, consumerism may raise the possibility of disagreement between patients and clinicians, increase mutual frustration, and result in inefficient use of patient-clinician visit time.
But this is only a part of the story. studies have demonstrated that healthcare consumerism is important to patients, although results vary based on patient demographics and on the complexity of the healthcare decision. Most patients have a much greater personal investment in their own well-being and treatments than the providers in the healthcare industry do and are willing to devote more time to understanding and determining diagnosis and treatment.
Download this free resource from Infiniti Research to gain comprehensive insights on:
- The opportunities of healthcare consumerism for providers
- The key challenges of healthcare consumerism
- Why addressing healthcare consumerism should be the top priority for healthcare professionals in 2019
- The future of healthcare consumerism
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