Healthcare consumerism has been quite the hot topic in the healthcare industry over the past several years. Changes in who holds the brunt of responsibility for healthcare costs have led to changes in how patients approach their care, and practices are left wondering how to respond. Let’s explore patient consumerism and how it should affect the average practice, including identifying five solutions practices can implement to satisfy the consumerist patient.
What is patient consumerism?
Patient consumerism involves patients taking a more active role in managing and paying for their healthcare. This includes the patient obtaining medical information, services, or products apart from the express advice of a physician, based on personal choice. One of the biggest catalysts for this trend has been high deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs), which place a larger share of medical costs on the patient.
On the positive side, patients taking a greater responsibility for their healthcare tend to be more informed and engaged in their wellbeing. On the other hand, however, these patients can fall victim to misinformation if they aren’t careful in researching their own condition, and doctors may have to spend extra time correcting ideas found on the internet.
How should practices react to patient consumerism?
With patients behaving in a more consumerist fashion, they are bringing similar expectations to the healthcare space that they hold in retail and service spaces. Namely, a consumerist patient is searching for convenience and value, as well as a sense of ownership within their care. As such, practices need to focus on creating a good consumer experience for their patients, where they make it clear that the patient and their preferences are valued.
Practices can ensure this positive patient experience in a few ways. They can implement technology solutions that satisfy patients’ wants for efficiency, affordability, and involvement in their care. Ensuring convenient care access for patients is another important step practices can take to satisfy these consumer-driven patients. Finally, providers must understand the importance of shared decision making to these patients and respond accordingly. Transparency of information is now of the utmost importance, with patients desiring through information regarding their diagnosis and treatment options.
Five Visit Tools to Satisfy the Consumerist Patient
There are several tools that can help practices to meet the expectations of consumer-driven patients. Let’s look at five of them:
- Digital Intake – Respecting patients’ time is particularly important in a consumerist health landscape. Digital intake is a great way to reduce wait times and also allow patients to provide necessary demographic, insurance, and medical history information at their own convenience.
- Clinical Decision Support – Consumer-driven patients want to be involved in their health care decision making, and as such they want to be informed. Clinical Decision Support is a great tool to provide education to patients in order to facilitate shared decision making.
- Telehealth – Convenience is of prime importance to consumerist patients. With a robust telehealth solution, you can ensure that your patients can choose to be seen virtually in a variety of situations, saving them time and travel without sacrificing care quality.
- EHR – Being able to focus on your patients is always important, but it’s especially so in today’s healthcare landscape. Consumerist patients are not satisfied with distracted providers, so it’s imperative to ensure that your EHR is seamless and easy to use, not taking your focus off of your patients.
- Practice Management/Revenue Cycle Management – When patients are largely responsible for footing the bill for their healthcare, they need to know what to expect. Make sure your practice uses a Practice Management or Revenue Cycle Management solution that allows for eligibility confirmation, prior authorizations, and price estimates. Being able to provide price transparency will weigh heavily in your practice’s favor with your patients.
Consumerist patients are rapidly becoming the norm, thanks in large part to current trends in insurance coverage. With this in mind, practices must respond accordingly and implement solutions and policies that satisfy these patients. At Henry Schein SolutionsHub, we understand how important this is to today’s medical practices, so we’ve worked hard to find the best possible vendors for you to partner with. Check out the linked solutions below or speak to a Solutions specialist to get started.