Health care is a business. A huge one. And the financial health of many in the industry is at stake as health care reform legislation moves to the finish line. Will it protect higher rates for doctors? Will it provide for millions more people with robust insurance? Will doctors and clinics have more customers for expensive procedures? Or will we finally put an emphasis on prevention, efficiency of quality care, and eliminating costly mistakes?
The best ally to lower cost, promote health, and eliminate waste and even fraud is the consumer herself. But you don’t hear much about that. Why shouldn’t 25-year-olds and 85-year-olds alike feel empowered to ask questions and be more active in a savvy way when and where they seek care or even wellness consulting? This should be our new health care “operating system.” Just as consumer spending fuels the economy, consumer wisdom should be encouraged as part of health care reform.
I do not hear that philosophy pushed by clinics, doctors, and hospitals. And I am hoping they will start to get the importance of them empowering patients sooner rather than later.
I write this as I fly to the Healthcare Internet Conference. It’s basically a series of seminars on how to market your hospital on the web. How to promote your doctors, your expensive surgical robots. Yes, these marketers and health techies are trying to understand the consumer, but I am not sure it’s about doing the right thing – which I define as projecting and truly believing “that we are all in this together.” Too often it’s just about the numbers: How do we get more patients, and for the most elaborate procedures? How do we grow market share? It’s about ROI this week and this month.
I understand business is business and, just like doctors can’t get too emotional about the pain their patients feel, hospitals and clinics have no history of getting caught up in health care consumerism. They have surgeries to do, CT scans to perform. But I think that should change.