At a Glance
- Patient consumerism refers to patients taking a more active role in managing and financing their healthcare. This is driven by the rise in high-deductible health plans that place more costs on patients.
- Consumerist patients have new expectations like convenience, value, and agency in their care.
- Strategies for catering to consumerist patients include implementing digital intake, clinical decision support, telehealth, EHRs, and practice management software.
Over the past few years, patient consumerism has become a hot topic for those in the healthcare industry. The shift in responsibility for healthcare expenses has altered patients' attitudes toward their care, leaving many practices uncertain about their response. In this guide, we'll delve into the concept of patient consumerism and its impact on medical practices, along with 5 strategies practices can adopt to cater to today's consumer-driven patients.
What is patient consumerism?
Patient consumerism refers to patients becoming more proactive in overseeing and financing their own healthcare. It involves patients seeking medical knowledge, services, or products beyond what's directly recommended by their doctors. A significant driving force behind this movement is the rise of high-deductible healthcare plans (HDHPs), which place a heftier portion of medical expenses on patients.
“Patient consumerism refers to patients becoming more proactive in overseeing and financing their own healthcare. ”
While there are advantages, such as patients becoming more knowledgeable and involved in their health, there are also downsides. For instance, there's the risk of patients finding and believing inaccurate information through their research. Consequently, healthcare professionals might find themselves spending additional time debunking myths and misconceptions patients discover online.
How should practices react to patient consumerism?
As patients increasingly adopt a consumerist mindset, they bring with them the same expectations they have from retail and service interactions. This means they are not just looking for healthcare; they want convenience, value, and a sense of agency in their care. It's imperative, then, for medical practices to prioritize providing an exceptional consumer-centric patient experience, emphasizing the significance of the patient's choices and values.
To cater to these evolving expectations, practices can:
- Integrate technological solutions to address patients' desires for efficiency, convenience, cost-effectiveness, and involvement in their care
- Embrace shared decision-making and recognize its importance to today's patients
- Prioritize transparency, ensuring patients have clear insights into their diagnosis and available treatment options
5 tools to satisfy the consumerist patient
Here are 5 tools that can assist in meeting the expectations of consumerist patients:
1. Digital intake
Valuing patients’ time is crucial in today's consumerist healthcare landscape. Digital intake systems minimize waiting periods, giving patients the flexibility to submit details about demographics, insurance, and medical history at their leisure.
2. Clinical decision support
Consumer-driven patients want to be proactive participants in their healthcare journey, which requires providing them with up-to-date information. Tools for clinical decision support can offer patients the necessary education to foster shared decision-making.
The consumerist patient prioritizes convenience. Implementing a comprehensive telehealth framework ensures these patients have the option for virtual appointments, which reduces their commute and wait time while maintaining high standards of care.
“The consumerist patient prioritizes convenience. ”
An uninterrupted patient-provider interaction is crucial for consumerist patients. To prevent distractions, it's essential to have a user-friendly EHR system that doesn't divert attention away from patients.
5. Practice management/revenue cycle management software
As patients bear a significant part of their healthcare expenses, clarity around costs is crucial. Leveraging a management solution that offers eligibility checks, prior authorizations, and cost estimates is key. The ability to give clear pricing insights can significantly enhance a patient's trust in your practice.
Adapting to consumerist patients
The shift towards consumer-driven preferences from patients should make providers consider updating their processes to match these expectations. Practices that ignore these evolving preferences risk unhappy patients and may lag behind more adaptive competitors.
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