10 November 2016
So a lot happened on November 8th! Surprised or not, a torrent of rhetoric followed by even more legislation to a healthcare system that continues with a chronic case of the blahs is the forecast. As President-Elect Donald Trump and many emboldened (with congressional majority) Republican leaders have already stated – repeal Obama Care. Who’s to say how that can or will happen. It took nearly 2 years to pass, is in its 6th year of implementation and much of what has been implemented for several years has taken hold – some good and some not-so-good. Our transforming health care delivery and sundry and ancillary cottage industries have adapted and even sprung up to varying degrees.
But what really remains – and will remain – outside of legislated laws and regulations: People, patients, caring physicians and healthcare workers fighting to do good work through many obstacles. At the end of the day, our healthcare providers earnestly want to deliver exceptional care to all those who need it. And patients expect that.
It's these expectations that are being formed in ever changing ways. We have TV commercials galore for new prescription drugs that have helped millions and frustrated physicians and non-sufferers. And billboards that tell us how long our wait will be in the emergency room. But importantly we have learned to adopt to new forms of information on how a healthcare consumer’s wants and needs can be met. Beyond your doctor and friends and family, social media outlets are changing what we see as patients and consumers and what we react to.
Below is a recent exchange (like the “day after” recent) from Crains Chicago Business in which a panel of experts weighed in on questions from Crain’s Chicago Business writer Kristen Schorsch. The answer below from Larry Boress, CEO of Chicago based Midwest Business Group on Health makes a strong point:
Q: Obamacare fueled many behavioral changes in Illinois health care. Hospitals and doctors lose money if their patients get unnecessary care. The state expanded the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. Consumers armed with high-deductible health plans saved money if they shopped around for deals on medical care. Do you see these efforts continuing?
Boress: Oh, absolutely. . . .People (having) to start shopping just like they do for a TV or a car or an appliance, knowing the difference not only in quality and cost, I think that's only going to grow as more employers adopt high-deductible plans. What consumers are demanding more of is information to understand this byzantine morass we call the US Health system. What is covered? What resources do I have? What is a network, PCP, EOB, MRI, aaaaahhhhhh!
Dunnhumby survey of consumer needs, © 2016
When consumers consider what their needs are, many are satisfied with what local healthcare providers can offer. But what they are becoming more and more aware of is there are more choices. Using the car example, we first had to be told the difference between four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (I mean most cars I see have 4 wheels, same same, right?), do I a need turbo-charged engine?, what alarm just went off in my car? Point is we learned by using, reading, watching and being taught (car salesman and your doctor are not the same, yep, got that).
From our building health-literacy we are becoming active consumers of health, wellness and healthcare. That is not going to be legislated away. Our market, with new technologies that are global, is becoming savvier in their shopping. Knowing what consumers need help with and how to inform them continues to be relevant, important and part of our daily lives. Do you know what is most important to your patients before they become patients? How are you helping them in their decisions? And afterwards how are your patient’s reflections being shared – with you and with their friends and family?
Be informed. Be ready. Be well.