Patients take first steps in healthcare cost containment – are you prepared for patient consumerism?
An elderly woman I know was recently hospitalized and then discharged to a step-down facility. She’s in her 90s but has more energy and spunk than most people half her age – when she’s feeling well. We were talking about her care and she relayed to me that she had a question about one of her bills. She had inquired about it and was told, “What do you care? Medicare covers it.” Exasperated, she had replied, “Do you know who pays for Medicare?”
Well, she does – or did, until she retired a few months ago after 70+ years of employment.
And this woman may be an exception to the rule – taking time to argue a bill that doesn’t directly impact her bank account — but it is representative of a trend nationwide. Patient consumerism. As patients take on higher deductibles and are subject to higher co-pays, it is a simple matter of economics that they will increasingly scrutinize services ordered and amounts charged for those services. These forces may drive your patients to “shop around” not only for the best rates, but also the best patient experience.
At our user group meeting in the Spring, a number of presentations highlighted how practices are responding to these changing dynamics. We learned about how practices are using technology and creativity to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively and to help improve the patient experience. As one of our customers likes to say, often it’s the little benefits that people remember – and she’s preparing their practice to have the best word-of-mouth referrals in town. We also saw how practices can help improve their ability to collect the patient’s portion of the bill to enhance their financial performance.
Times are changing. The patient is becoming an increasing factor in healthcare decision-making, and practices will need to grow increasingly sophisticated to succeed. Are you prepared for patient consumerism?