In the past, patients had little say over how much they paid for healthcare and scarce knowledge of the cost of procedures and office visits before they received the bill. They also had little control over the treatments they received and were expected to go along with whatever their providers suggested.
Healthcare consumerism is changing that. It’s also changing the ways providers think about patient payments.
What Is Healthcare Consumerism?
Healthcare consumerism gives patients greater control over the decisions made about their health and medical care. It provides them with more knowledge about the cost of care and how those expenses may differ from one provider to another. It’s part of a broader shift toward patient-centric care.
Under healthcare consumerism, patients are freer to shop around for care. They can research the prices of treatments and procedures in advance and discover their options. With the knowledge they gain, patients are better equipped to participate in the care process and become active members of their healthcare team.
What’s Driving Consumerism in Healthcare?
Several forces have been behind the push toward healthcare consumerism in recent years. Those forces include:
High-deductible Health Plans
With high-deductible health plans (HDHP), patients pay more money out of pocket for their care. In exchange, their monthly premium is lower than for a plan without a deductible. Since patients with HDHPs have a greater financial responsibility for their healthcare, they are likely to be more selective about the providers and treatments they choose.
Under a value-based care model, providers receive payments based on patient outcomes. The model drives providers to deliver treatments and services that maximize well-being while reducing overall costs.
Direct-to-consumer Medication Marketing
Today’s healthcare consumer gets ample information about new medications through marketing and advertising. They can head into a provider’s office and ask questions about a specific medication rather than wait for a recommendation.
What Are the Benefits of Healthcare Consumerism for Patients?
Consumerism in healthcare can benefit the system as a whole. It also has benefits specifically for patients, such as:
- Informed decision-making: Healthcare consumerism empowers patients to learn as much as possible about their conditions and available treatments. Instead of unquestioningly accepting what a provider recommends, they can gain a better understanding of what will happen.
- Improved knowledge of costs and benefits: The more patients know, the better they’ll comprehend why one treatment may be recommended over another. They’ll also learn how the cost of a procedure is more worth it compared to another.
- Better patient experience: When patients actively participate in their care teams, their experience improves. They are more likely to feel respected by their providers and will have greater clarity about the steps involved in their care.
What Are the Benefits of Consumerism in Healthcare for Providers?
Providers can also benefit from the shift to healthcare consumerism. When patients are more engaged in their care, there’s a greater opportunity for providers to educate them. A provider can focus on giving their patients preventative care tips and healthy living advice to reduce the risk of chronic conditions and improve treatment outcomes for certain conditions.
Healthcare consumerism can also streamline the patient payment process and allow providers to meet patient expectations. Using a patient software platform that connects across workstations and devices means providers and patients can access the information they need no matter where they are.
How to Make Healthcare Consumerism Work for Your Practice
As consumerism becomes more of a driving force in healthcare, it’s up to you to make your practice stand out and attract patients. Upgrading the patient experience by simplifying your processes, improving payment options, and increasing patient participation are all ways to make healthcare consumerism work in favor of your practice.