Retailization Puts Patients at the Center of Healthcare

By The Force TeamNov. 13, 2015

This week Geisinger Health System announced that they will be instating a money back guarantee on their services – providing refunds to unsatisfied patients. The system president and CEO, Dr. David Feinberg, said that the new program is “a small token of appreciation” for honest information that will help them improve their methods for delivering care. Geisinger is putting itself at the forefront of a tide of patient-centricity brought on by the retailization.

We’ve mentioned before how the Affordable Care Act and Alternative Payment Models (e.g. ACOs, bundled payments, etc.) are driving healthcare towards traditional business metrics. That includes putting the “customer” first – through high deductible plans, patients are moving more solidly into that role as they become more educated consumers of services.

At a recent NYC Health Business Leaders panel, Jon Cohen, SVP and CMO of Quest Diagnostics remarked that, “The number one driver right now for consumer healthcare is high-deductible plans. For the first time in the history of healthcare in this country, the American public is responsible for huge amounts of their cost of care and how they’re going to spend it.”

This makes providers more responsible to them in return. “Imagine this scenario,” Cohen said at the panel, “A patient needing a hip replacement asks the surgeon: ‘how many patients have you readmitted in the last year? How many infections have you had? Give me the names of the last 3 patients that you operated on so that I can call them’ Can you imagine a patients actually asking that? The answer has to be yes.”

Patients’ making increasingly informed decisions will further drive the trend towards a stratified healthcare landscape -- with regional centers of excellence emerging, and stragglers (i.e. low-value providers) dropping out of the playing field. As leading organizations recognize patients’ direct effect on the bottom line, they are beginning to pay even closer attention to what they want.  

What patients want is convenience and effectiveness.

They want to get in and out of an appointment as quickly as possible, and then they want to stay well and out of a facility. They are less and less interested in inconveniences encouraged by fee-for service payments. The number of Americans with a primary care physician is steadily decreasing.  Urgent Care Centers are steadily increasing.  Many patients want to be able to take care of themselves and demand access to convenient care when needed. Tech platforms are an indispensible part of enabling high-quality self-care.

Healthcare leaders are recognizing that the demand for convenience and effectiveness will only continue to increase with the 92 million Millennials who will expect healthcare to keep up with the technology they use in every other facet of their lives. “Millennials are going to drive it, they are different. They will not engage in the healthcare system the way it used to be done,” Dr. Richard Park, CEO of City MD,a rapidly growing urgent care company, remarked on the same panel.

If it wasn’t clear before that this change is coming, it is clear now: the change has come. It’s time to give the people what they want: valuable, effective, highly convenient care.  If you don’t, they’ll choose to go elsewhere. The patient is now the boss.


Featured Image Credit: Gary Hamel: Open source is one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century by CC2.0 Via Flickr

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