What’s Inflating U.S. Healthcare Costs? Patients Play a Passive Role

by Barry Hill

What's inflating U.S. healthcare costs? Patients playing a passive role.

It’s interesting that many of us, when purchasing a new car, spend more time researching and informing ourselves of the current market conditions than we do when it comes to making decisions about our healthcare. You and I aren’t completely to blame. We operate within a healthcare system in which the consumer, you and I as patients, has long played a passive role in the process of decision-making regarding care/treatment, and the correlating costs.

But that may be changing. According to the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center, “Consumers, long passive, will have a new role.  Employer incentives, retail access, and new technology options will encourage them to engage, demand Information and push for value.”  ‘VALUE’ being a key word in the shifting of our current system.

Fortunately we have always, and still do, have full control over one important aspect of our inefficient healthcare system: our personal healthcare choices – both in and out of the clinic. During clinic visits, are you inclined to typically not question physician recommendations? Or, do you question and research these recommendations before making a decision? Does your physician ask you about your lifestyle—diet, exercise, stress levels?

If ‘healthcare’ is a true ‘CARE’ system, the conversations you have with your primary care physician should include your actions outside of the clinic. Yes, it’s great to get your annual checkup, but if you proceed to remain inactive and eat poorly, you might as well just roll the dice to determine your fate. Let’s face it, you might think you have the greatest doctor, but he or she isn’t a magician. The damage you may be inflicting on your health in your everyday habits may eventually become TOO catastrophic and TOO expensive to simply “fix.

Consumerization of Healthcare is about putting the patient first. AND, with the logic that by putting the patient first, the patient will profit and the healthcare provider will profit.

Fortunately, this new model is being tested and is proving successful! Dr. Brent James, Chief Quality Officer of Intermountain Healthcare, says “…We do the right thing, even if it drives cost. But we demonstrated that quality drives savings.”  In this case, the methodology of a slightly larger upfront investment in prevention, specifically relating to lifestyle modifications, leads to increased savings in the long term.

Technological advances, particularly with mHealth (mobile health technology) are playing a role in creating more educated and informed patients, with greater access to medical records and medical advice. And typically, with a more informed and educated consumer, there is a higher expectation and demand for quality, efficient care.

What You Can Do Now

It’s becoming more important than ever to take full responsibility for your health, preventing illness wherever possible and achieving faster and more thorough recovery when things do go wrong. That old “the doctor can fix it” mentality no longer has a place in your continued good health.

Instead, “prevention” is the key concept we all need to embrace. One key component is to surround yourself with the right team of healthcare experts – those who are willing to take the time to help you assess your lifestyle choices as they relate to your overall health, and who are willing to thoroughly answer your questions relating to choices you need to make. In the long run, you’ll be healthier longer if you take the steps needed to preserve your health – starting now – rather than wait until something “breaks” and expect the doctor to fix it.

Up Next on Fit After Fifty: What’s Inflating U.S.Healthcare Costs? Third-Party Payment Systems – What You Can Do Now

The full series:

Our Healthcare Crisis – Why Should You Care?

What’s Inflating U.S.Healthcare Costs? Volume-Fee-For-Service Model

What’s Inflating U.S.Healthcare Costs? Consumers Play a Passive Role

What’s Inflating U.S.Healthcare Costs? Third-Party Payment Systems





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1 comment

Our Healthcare Crisis - Why Should You Care? - FitBehavior March 18, 2015 - 6:51 pm

[…] What’s Inflating U.S. Healthcare Costs? Consumers Play a Passive Role […]

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