The healthcare industry is fast growing into a consumer-centric economy. You might have already noticed, just in the past few years how there has been a consistent shift from an industry that ‘cares for the sick’ to a booming category that is consumer-driven.
So what does ‘consumerism in healthcare’ truly mean? It means that we live in a day and age, more so because of the COVID pandemic where the consumers are actively involved in making their health care decisions. These decisions are informed, after a good amount of preliminary research and thus are valued highly. In order to get a health plan, for example, an employee today looks at various parameters, treating it as one of the most essential and expensive investments.
Today’s patients have more money at stake, more options to choose from, and more information to consider – than ever before!
Patients are now aware of their consumer rights and thus, are capable of making the best decisions for their health, considering the quality and cost of healthcare services like they do with other commodities.
The two key factors driving the patient towards healthcare decision making are –
- The emergence of health insurance products with infinite permutations and combinations
- and the multitude of websites and tools offering transparency into price and quality.
Moving on, let’s touch upon some of the catalysts of health care consumerism as of today.
The first one is TELEHEALTH. It consists of a range of devices and technologies that are capable of transmitting real-time information around the globe, enabling healthcare providers to offer services to the previously neglected segments of society. Using medical devices to monitor consumer’s health from anywhere in the world has resulted in a new level of convenience for patients and providers. You’re basically getting in-person visits to a medical practitioner and regular doctor visits from no matter where you may be, creating a more extensive and personalized treatment plan. It also enhances the quality of care that would otherwise be unavailable, making a strong case for you to pick or prefer x provider over any other health care provider.
For example – healthcare workers having no experience, in a remote village may fail to manage the treatment in the midst of a stroke but with telehealth, they can receive guidance and instructions from a more seasoned specialist and provide the right treatment to the patient.
Another benefit of the telehealth trend spreading far and wide is that it is far more convenient, cheaper, and personalized from the patient’s point of view. They can talk to doctors on the go, keep a set record of medical history and prescriptions and save on extra expenses like fuel, time spent traveling and the in-person visiting fee a doctor would charge within a hospital.
The next trend that’s part of this wave of healthcare consumerism and is rather at the forefront of it, is that of wearables and self-monitoring. With the advancements in technology and various devices like pulse oximeters, fitness trackers, blood sugar level trackers being sold at ridiculously low rates a patient can track his health in time to avoid various conditions. Thus, in a state of self-awareness where he’s actively a decision-maker in his health care plan, the patient will tend to move towards health care providers that can offer an integrated approach that involves the use of these devices to track and maintain their health.
To conclude, the future for healthcare does look bright but healthcare providers and patients (rather consumers) must work together to know how best to customize this technology to different groups of people so they are all able to access healthcare.