Over the past two weeks we have discussed the evolution of both television and healthcare, and what seems to be the missing consumer revolution within the latter. Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins introduced the Patient Freedom Act on Monday as a replacement bill to the Affordable Care Act. In addition to block grants to the states, the bill calls for pre-funding individual health savings accounts (HSAs) from tax rebates. The HSAs are then coupled with high deductible, catastrophic health insurance.
Basically, some patients would have their own HSA (pre-funded by their tax rebate) and would decide when, how and where they spend their healthcare dollar. Structurally, if anything can spur consumerism in healthcare, this is probably it. So, let’s imaging that a disruption on the scale of Netflix occurs within healthcare, what will consumers demand?
We believe that in the coming wave of consumerism, patients’ demands will center around five elements:
- Technology & Innovation
Patient access is typically the patient’s first experience with any healthcare organization.
Ultimately, patients will demand real-time access to healthcare services on a 24/7 basis. The traditional, linear approach to patient scheduling and communication will no longer do. At a minimum, patients will be offered walk-in availability, same day appointments, extended hours, and 24 hour options. The day of the week will no longer have an impact on patient access.
The winners will develop options that we believe have not even been fully contemplated. Access will include emergency services, appointment and walk-in availability to physicians and advanced care providers, mental health, outpatient testing, ease of paperwork, healthcare information and the patient medical record.
Traditionally, healthcare organizations have offered patients services in a limited number of settings – inpatient, outpatient, ED, and physician offices. In the not-so-distant future, the setting will be defined by the location of the patient rather than the provider. While the traditional sites of service will still exist, patients will want access to healthcare where they are – home, work, the car, kid activities, and vacations to name a few.
The notion of giving patients open access to healthcare in whatever setting they desire seems daunting, given the traditional model of care. But, should all healthcare delivery rely solely on highly-trained human capital? As we know, physicians and advanced care providers are a limited resource that is not keeping pace with increasing demand, much less responding to the desires of the consumer.
The answer lies within the development of technology and innovation around models of care. This includes patient diagnosis, treatment, communication, documentation, follow-up, and monitoring. Imagine documenting your symptoms online, having a technology-based initial diagnosis, and a telephone or facetime-esque conversation with an advanced care provider for treatment – when you want and where you want. Obviously, there would be a separate path for higher acuity needs.
Over the years, much has been written about pricing transparency. Transparency?? Can you imagine telling consumers in other industries “OK, you win, we will tell you what some things cost before you buy them.” Pricing will need to be rational, competitive, and yes, abundantly transparent.
Rational simply means that there must be a sound basis for how the price was developed. Pricing that is set to maximize the remaining % of charge contracts will be at great peril, and likely not very competitive.
Ultimately, the right combination of the above will determine the patient experience and degree of satisfaction. Hospitals, health systems, and physician practices that innovate how they best treat their customers, will win, just like in every other industry. Rather than an experience rating based on an episode of care within a single setting, the experience of the patient will need to be measured based on their interaction across the entire spectrum of care.
At 3d Health, we are very excited about the evolving role of the consumer and plan to announce two weeks from today how we will help our clients better respond to the increasing and shifting demands of their patient base.Questions or comments? Contact Shane Foreman at 312-423-2671 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Brittany Foreman at 281-750-5614 / email@example.com for further discussion.