One of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) less publicized goals was to get away from the fee-for-service model in favor of a healthcare delivery system that focused on patient satisfaction. More than 10 years later, that goal has yet to be realized. However, the combination of medical technology and the COVID crisis may finally bring it to fruition. As a medical professional, are you ready for consumer-driven healthcare?
A 2021 survey conducted by Accenture Digital Health revealed that one of the most popular venture capital trends in healthcare in 2021 was investing in consumer-driven digital health. The survey went on to explain what that meant. In essence, venture capitalists believe that consumers want to access healthcare services similar to how they access things in the retail, financial, and tech industries.
Looking at healthcare from that perspective makes it clear that consumers want to be in control. They are no longer willing to surrender their medical sovereignty to a GP. Telemedicine is gradually making that possible.
Just Like Buying a Car
Consumer-driven healthcare is easily comparable to the more common retail experiences. For example, consider arranging for diagnostic testing the same way one shops for a car. When it comes to diagnostic tests, consumers want the ability to:
- compare prices
- shop among numerous providers
- look at all available options
- read reviews from other customers.
In the old days, your doctor would refer you to a specialist for diagnostic testing. You would go wherever you were told to go. But if you compare that to buying a car, it would be like the dealer choosing your car and you going along blindly.
Nobody buys a car that way. Moreover, digital technology gives us so many more options for car shopping. Consumer-driven healthcare is very quickly turning into the same sort of thing.
Technology Is Answering the Call
Consumer-driven healthcare does not necessarily require technology to work. We could have implemented a consumer driven model fifty years ago, but that is a different topic for a different post. Today, technology drives what consumers do in the marketplace. Therefore, consumer-driven healthcare needs the right technology to support it.
Fortunately, technology is answering the call. Take the telemedicine solutions offered by CSI Health as an example. CSI Health offers portable telemedicine platforms, individual kiosks, and full clinical solutions. All their platforms come with built-in diagnostic tools ranging from EKG/ECG to ultrasound and glucometer.
And for more routine primary care where diagnostic tools are not really required, consumers can avail themselves of mobile apps that offer physician consultations on demand. A consumer needing to consult with a physician or nurse practitioner can do so from anywhere in the world with just a mobile device and an internet connection.
Patients Are Also Customers
Much to the chagrin of some healthcare providers, patients are no longer just patients. They are now also customers who expect a certain level of service. Whether the industry likes this or not really changes nothing. That is the environment we are in today.
Patients also being customers dictates that healthcare providers are also service providers. As such, they are no longer in total control. They have to make their customers happy or risk losing those customers to other providers. Is that the way it should be? That is a matter of opinion. But opinions notwithstanding, that’s the way it is now.
The age of consumer-driven healthcare has arrived. Are medical professionals ready for it? The jury is still out on that one. But one way or the other, the industry will ultimately have to get on board.