Consumerism made inroads into the healthcare industry at least a decade ago. The patients have started acting increasingly like who have a choice in their healthcare options in order to make the best decisions for quality and cost just as they do with any other commodity. With the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the trend has gained momentum, leaving many consumers with large deductibles that put more pressure on them to find the most cost-effective care for the dollars coming out of their own pockets.
As per a study conducted recently by McKinsey&Company, more than half the participants cited great customer service as important for non-healthcare and healthcare companies alike. Delivering on expectations, making life easier, and offering great value were some of the other qualities that the participants identified as important for both sets of companies.
Consumerism appears to have more impact on outpatient services than inpatient care with patients still relying on their physicians to refer them to the appropriate hospital without questioning that choice generally. It’s only at the point when the facility is out of the network that most patients will speak up and ask about an in-network alternative.
Companies like referralMD, Healthgrades, and Vitals offer patients and providers tools to gauge which providers are both cost-effective and high quality. The consumerism movement is expected to grow in the outpatient sector and the healthcare organizations have to accept the change and respond accordingly.