A patient and a doctor making shared decisions to represent consumerism in healthcare
Sep 16

What is consumerism in healthcare?

The healthcare industry is changing. According to a 2019 report by InstaMed, patients experienced a 162% increase in deductible burden over the last ten years. This rising responsibility for patients has made them more “choosey” when it comes to who provides them with care and who their money will inevitably go to. This shift towards looking at healthcare as a consumer places more burden on providers to obtain and retain patients. Now, what is consumerism in healthcare and what does it mean for providers? Let’ find out.

Consumerism in Healthcare

To begin, let’s define consumerism. Consumerism, generally, is defined as the protection of consumer interests.  When it comes to healthcare, consumerism specifically refers to patient involvement in their own healthcare decisions. For provider’s, this shift can be tricky as it ditches the old model where patient’s simply listen and follow a doctor’s instructions. Now, patients and providers are working in a partnership to make care decisions together. In this newer model, both opinions from patients and providers are heard and considered when making treatment plans.

Today’s patients are now responsible for a larger share of their healthcare costs than ever before. This creates more patient involvement in care decisions and the need for clear communication. Clear, concise communications from the providers helps to produce buy-in on treatments and care plans. Consumerism also promotes valuable care over volume of service, or value-based care initiatives. Patients are increasingly cautious of what their care will cost them and what that investment will provide them with.

In order for providers to meet this need and accommodate patients’ cautious spending, they should do the following…
  • Discuss treatment plans in full details (benefits, drawbacks, time demands, etc.)
  • Explain the needs for each service
  • Detail the expectations for each service
  • Provide transparent pricing to allow for the patient to make an informed decision

Consumerism and Patient Expectations

Consumerism has led the way for a change in patient expectations for care as well. When it comes to patient care, consumers expect to have adequate access to care and excellent customer service. Patients also want to see their provider quickly, when they need care, and not several weeks after their initial call. Added to this, they are expecting efficiency and convenience when it comes to appointment scheduling (this can be solved with technology tools like patient intake, appointment scheduling systems, or PM software). This all come down to convenience of care. Patients expect minimal waits for scheduled appointments, to be scheduled within a timely manner after calling for a visit, and to be able to do this all easily.

As stated earlier, patients are also expecting to play a larger role in the overall decision making of their healthcare treatment. In order to do so, they have taken to the internet which has presented some problems for clinicians when it comes to treating the patient in the manner they see fit vs. Dr. Google’s recommendations. If we flip the script, a patient presenting information from the internet can provide doctor’s with a great platform to begin a conversation and present patient education. This type of communication and care coordination will make a patient feel better taken care of at your practice.

If you are still uncertain of what is your patients are expecting, we encourage you to ask them. It is important for physicians and practices to meet patients where they are and go beyond to obtain and retain patients. What is your practice doing in order keep up with consumerism? What technologies are helping your organization keep up with the rising expectations of patients? Let us know in the comments.

Are you looking for a patient intake solution, or appointment scheduling software to make the scheduling or check-in process more efficient at your practice? MicroMD can help. Check out our Solutions Marketplace today or call us at 800.624.8832.

About the author,
Savanna Adams

Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs SEO research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.

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