With an increase in cost-sharing among patients and payers, the days of passive patients are long gone. Today’s patients are acting as consumers. Patients conduct the necessary research to choose providers that represent the best value in cost and care quality. What exactly does consumerism in healthcare look like, and how can doctors navigate this new healthcare landscape? Let’s take a look.
What is consumerism in healthcare?
Consumerism is the movement in which patients are conducting research and making decisions in regard to their healthcare. They are no longer relying on their physicians and insurance providers to tell them who to see and where to obtain care. As deductibles have gone up and patients are responsible for more of the cost of their own care out of pocket, they want to find the best value. Patients now want to know the costs associated with each provider as well as patient satisfaction rates. Patients also take into account the physician’s experience with the type of condition they’re dealing with and history of complications or mistakes. This information helps the patient decide who to trust with their care and where they’re willing to spend their money.
How do doctors navigate healthcare consumerism?
The first, most important, way doctors navigate the landscape of healthcare consumerism is to be transparent. If patients can’t get information about you, you don’t stand a chance of being their choice. Patients are used to being able to search online for information about any other decision they’re making. Therefore, make sure your practice has an online presence and remember to stay intentional with this online presence. Keep information up-to-date and respond to patient reviews. This is especially important when a bad review comes in, as it’s necessary to respond to them quickly and professionally. The aim is always to resolve the concern in a way that satisfies the patient when possible.
It’s also important to know the healthcare consumers in your area and what is important to them as they seek healthcare. In some areas, patients will be most concerned about saving money. In some areas, they want the provider with the best patient ratings. Put some research in, perhaps by asking your existing patients what is important to them, and learn what is of the most value in your area. Then, focus on your strengths in that way.
Finally, seek to guide your existing patients when possible. If they’re needing a specialist, have an honest conversation with them about what their health needs are and what is important to them as a consumer. Then work to provide them the information necessary to make a decision that will satisfy their needs.
While the increase in patient healthcare consumerism can feel intimidating, it doesn’t have to cause issues. In fact, when responded to properly, this could prove to be a very good thing for your practice. You know the kind of care you provide, the way you value your patients, and what you can offer for the money. Be open about that and allow it to attract consumers just trying to make the best decision and find the best value. Furthermore, make sure to have open communication with your existing patients. One of the best ways to achieve this is through the use of a patient portal like Henry Schein Secure Chart Patient Portal.