It is often said that the relationship between the doctor and the patient is the foundation of the American medical system. Consider your typical Americana small town circa 1950’s. One stoplight on Main Street, everybody knows everybody, and high school football is the main attraction. You know what I mean. In this scenario, I can tell you exactly who the 3 most important people in town are. The mayor, the priest, and the doctor. Why? Because these are the people that are the most trusted and are the cornerstone figures in people’s lives.
Let’s leave the analogy there and take a look at the doctors. Do we still place implicit trust in them? Do we still invite them over for casseroles on Sundays? Sort of. In today’s America, we’ve largely diverged from the ask-no-questions mindset. We’ve got the ability to get an instant (self)diagnosis on our phones. We’ve read all about the perils of getting wrong surgeries and being on the wrong medications. While a lot of this has been beneficial for the patient, a lot of it hasn’t. In some cases, it can even be dangerous, as people may be incorrectly self-diagnosing.
Current studies have consistently shown that doctors are more “personable” consistently getting higher ratings from patients. They are, after all, in a “power” position and people want to feel like they are being heard. Seems pretty fair, right?
It’s not for me to say whether or not the changing doctor-patient landscape is a positive or a negative thing. But I do want to show you a few ways in which it will continue to change:
1. Patient- doctor relationships will be more important – doctors will be incentivized to receive proper ratings from their patients, otherwise risk receiving financial penalties from Medicare (check that out here).
2. People are growing more “consumer centric” – a nationwide shift to higher deductible plans has really increased people’s exposure to possible big bills. With that in mind, the idea is that with increased exposure comes increased consumerism (more on that). Simply put, people are more responsible for making sure that they are getting positive outcomes with their care. As such, we can expect that people will increasingly come to their doctor appointments armed with knowledge (good or bad).
3. Increased information – we’re not just relying on WebMD anymore. Both public and private institutions are increasing the amount of knowledge that they are putting forth. Expect to see information on a doctor’s payment scheme (who pays them), costs and success rates.
4. Independent tools and services – outside of seeing your traditional GP, there are a number of services to assist with the “consumerism” aspect of care. Think telehealth, second opinion services and patient literacy training. While most of these are available independently, a lot of them can be purchased for your entire company. With healthcare costs and consumerism rapidly rising, many of these services can offer a compelling case for ROI.
Sure, this isn’t an exhaustive list. But rest assured that the healthcare landscape is definitely changing. And with that comes new responsibilities on behalf of both the patient and the company (who pays for the health plan). Click here for more consumerism and cost containment info.