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Empowering patients is more transformational than you thought (or feared)

December 12, 2018
Business Affairs

What to do next? Do not reinvent the wheel. Identify a company in the B2C space – retail, hospitality, travel – that most closely mirrors the type of relationship you want to have with consumers. Learn from them. Copy them. Hire people from them.

2: Appreciate that healthcare information access is not healthcare literacy
Allowing consumers to see every lab or study result should not be confused with helping that consumer understand what to do (or not do) with that information. Likewise, the power and ubiquity of online search is a major enabler of empowerment, but, absent a provider’s knowledge and experience to put the information into proper context, can do more harm than good.

What to do next? Recognize that portals, apps and online health resources can be extremely useful for some healthcare activities, but are insufficient where clinical judgment and context are needed. Use technology and information resources appropriately.

3: Calculate your actual costs
Price transparency for healthcare services is slowly becoming a reality (see below). Before posting prices online, it’s essential for organizations to know exactly what it costs to deliver their most common products and services. How much time do staff spend before, during and after a procedure? What are the costs of all goods used for that procedure (vs. those on standby that can be returned to stock)? A revealing Wall Street Journal article, What Does Knee Surgery Really Cost? highlighted the gap between what hospitals bill patients and insurers and the actual costs incurred to perform certain services.

What to do next? Calculating prices is not terribly difficult, but it is labor intensive. If funds are available to hire a professional services/consulting firm that has done similar work in the past, engage them where you can.

4: Demand comparative effectiveness data to support product and service claims
It is much easier to say that something is better than to actually prove it with meaningful data. But with healthcare costs continuing to rise – now surpassing 18% of the U.S. gross domestic product – providers can no longer justify use of a new drug, device or procedure that costs five to ten times the next best alternative without seeing comparative effectiveness data from the manufacturer.

What to do next? Let the market do what it is supposed to do when buyers of products and services demand better or different. Where some sellers might decry this as unreasonable, others will see an opportunity to outperform their competitors by satisfying customer demands.

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