What the “Rise of the Healthcare Consumer” Means to You

From ‘6 Issues Facing Hospital CEOs in  2011 and Beyond’ in Becker’s ACS Review. Rachel Fields says:

Historically, physicians exercised substantial control over where their patients received care. Referrals were key, and patients were relatively submissive to the advice and directions of their providers. Not so anymore, Mr. Whelan says: In the age of information and social media, patients are acting as consumers, conducting their own research on hospital outcomes to determine the best place to spend their money. “More and more things are becoming publicly available as it relates to quality metrics, and it ultimately ends up being consumer choice,” he says. Because of this trend, hospitals may have to shift their focus from influencing referral patterns to improving direct-to-consumer marketing and publicized outcomes. He says the increasingly public nature of quality outcomes may be difficult for facilities where publicity would demonstrate a poor rate of compliance to national benchmarks. “If you go on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock website, they publish everything form pricing to quality,” he says. “Sixty-five percent [of hospitals] are not ready for that game. The mortality, the infection rates, the sentinel events — this not exactly the type of information you want publicly available.” The availability of this data will force hospital CEOs to put more pressure on improving outcomes, which, again, means standardization of care and physician alignment.”


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