Consumerism: Reshaping the Healthcare Industry
I’m guessing you’ve been hearing this word a lot lately. And for good reason, as many of us are indeed becoming better consumers. Consumerism positively affects many parts of our lives, from the food we eat to the clothes, cars and electronics we buy. Becoming a more informed consumer is helping us make better, more informed decisions. This is increasingly true about healthcare as well.
Consumerism is beginning to reshape the landscape of the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry is transforming an employer’s health benefit plan into one that puts more decision-making into the hands of their employees (and their employees’ dependents).
We're no longer content with letting others make all our decisions, but we're becoming more comfortable in seeking out the best solutions for ourselves. However, it’s still often confusing and frustrating to get the type of information we need in order to feel comfortable making an impact on the care we receive – and the price we pay.
Although 7 in 10 consumers feel they’re responsible for managing their own health, they also admit that they don’t have the tools to do so. Unlike other industries where side-by-side comparisons of features, benefits and costs are common, the healthcare industry is a confusing maze of choices, typically with no upfront pricing.
That’s why employers should always have a strategy and action plan in place to supply the information and decision support tools employees need. They should also provide financial incentives, rewards and other benefits that encourage personal involvement in altering healthcare purchasing behaviors.
Employers who play an active role in healthcare consumerism will help contribute to decreasing their costs, their employees’ costs and over time, improve their employees’ health!
For the last decade, consumerism has been making advances into the healthcare industry. Continuously, more of us are increasingly acting like consumers who have an active choice in our healthcare options. As with any other purchasing selection, we try to make the best decisions for the quality and cost of healthcare.
However, despite the growing access to quality metrics, there are still gaps in available information. Having limited information can make it difficult to tell the difference between doctors and hospitals. Even if a patient does have adequate information, though, they still may be unable to choose freely because of health plan restrictions and other limitations.
Yet the consumerism trend has advanced far beyond where it was just a few years ago, and the healthcare industry is responding with initiatives that should help even more.
With modern consumers’ expectations, healthcare is experiencing a shift in the type of care that’s provided. There will be significant opportunities for employers who act on this shift in the coming months and years.
Are you educating your employees on effective healthcare tools and options? If you need more help or additional information on consumerism, reach out to a member of the ‘A’ Team today.
- HSAs: Consumerism at its Finest
- MRMH Award for Focus on Healthcare Consumerism and Wellness
- Becoming a Better Healthcare Consumer