What do you think the term healthcare consumerism means? While it isn’t broadly used as other definitions, the concept is now widely engrained in the way patients think and how we react as providers to their needs.
In most cases, healthcare consumerism means patients making educated and informed decisions based on quality of care within the medical field. However, some people take this to mean broader terms of taking their money elsewhere if they aren’t happy with the level of service provided by their doctor.
For independent practices, it is important to always have a keen eye on why this is vital, and the societal shifts associated with it. Failure to do so can often mean a damaged reputation or a loss of clinic income, so it is important to stay informed. Here are seven things you need to know about healthcare consumerism.
#1: Healthcare Consumerism Isn’t a New Way of Thinking
In most cases, the idea of healthcare consumerism isn’t all that new of an idea. Dating as far back as the 1930s, the origins of choice and the ability to select medical providers has been in the forefront of the medical field.
If you think about it, this isn’t too surprising. This is around the time that towns and cities began to grow exponentially, and it wasn’t totally unheard of to have a hospital or more than one medical provider readily accessible. At that point, patients were no longer stuck with the only doctor in town and began to have the option of choosing the one they felt offered the most comprehensive level of care.
#2: Convenience and Shared Decision Making Are Key Components
Two of the most important components of healthcare consumerism are convenience and shared decision making. Today’s patients want the ability to control their care on their own terms. This can sometimes translate to deciding between various treatment options after being presented with key information or the ability to get a second opinion when data doesn’t sound as accurate as one would hope.
Telemedicine has also made a huge impact on healthcare consumerism. Patients now have the ability to use a smartphone or tablet device to connect with trained professionals without ever leaving home and on their own timeframes. In terms of small or acute medical diagnosis, this can sometimes be a preferred option over having to wait a few days or weeks to see a local clinician.
#3: Social Media Has a Huge Bearing on Healthcare Consumerism
There’s no doubt that social media has made a big impact on our entire society as a whole—and the medical field is no exception. Patient consumerism is in full display every time a disgruntled patient posts a bad review to Google or someone details a positive interaction on Facebook.
In a time where the power of patient choice is so clear, these platforms give the general public a greater idea about your practice and staff. In some cases, this can be an amazing form of word-of-mouth marketing, but not always.
#4: Value Means Everything to Patients
Consumers today want an increasing amount of value for their dollar. This is still true when we’re discussing healthcare. While the waters can get a little murky when it comes to billing for patient care across the board, they still want to know that they are getting the right level of value for what they are paying for.
The interesting thing about this concept is that value is very individualized. For some, it can mean homemade cookies in a general practice waiting room. Others want a top level of service with appointments on the weekends or evenings. Knowing your patients and understanding what makes them happy is important to satisfying their level of value.
#5: Engagement is Crucial in a Patient-Centered Approach
There’s long been talk about medical providers utilizing a preferred care approach with a higher level of patient-centered ideals. However, healthcare consumerism takes this a step further by making it so that it isn’t just a goal, it is what patients expect.
As we’ve detailed here, the ability to make strong decisions about health issues is directly tied to a high level of satisfaction and value. For independent practices, this means that giving patients an active role in their medical decisions is linked to how they feel about where they are spending their healthcare dollars. Simply put, the more you involve patients in the decision process, the greater chance they will continue to utilize you as their preferred provider.
#6: Public Engagement in Research is Also Important
For medical researchers, the idea of healthcare consumerism is not lost. As a whole, patients want to be involved in or at least understand how new treatments and procedures work—long before they have to consider decisions associated with using them.
That’s why public engagement is such an important facet to medical research. By consistently sharing data and other information with consumers, the healthcare profession is helping create patients that are more knowledgeable and have a greater understanding with the processes involved in their care. Again, this is something that patients are beginning to expect and will not settle for anything less.
#7: Healthcare Consumerism is Only Expected to Grow
As we move into another era of the everchanging medical profession, it is a good idea to realize that the concept of healthcare consumerism is only expected to grow. The more patients feel they are entitled to stellar services and an abundance of value, the greater the need to accommodate their needs is going to be. Medical practice managers and doctors should be aware of the concept and make room for it in all business planning tasks in the future.
Would you appreciate more time to spend on making your patients happy instead of worrying about medical billing tasks? Our team at M-Scribe is here to help. We offer a wide range of medical billing services centered around your needs. Please contact us today for more details.