Past Meetings

Consumerism in Healthcare

2/15/00  Back

Presenters: Scott A. Mason of APACHE Medical Systems and Devinder Bawa

Consumers are changing the future of healthcare. The old consumer has certain attributes that are different than the new consumer. In particular, the expectations of the new consumer are more demanding and technology-driven. This will ultimately affect the doctor-patient relationship. How is the industry responding? In a number of ways but generally ineffectively. HIPAA is the most visible driver but it does not broadly affect consumer interests. Look for an even more active, well-informed, and demanding consumer in the future, along with insistence on new technology such as that available in other sectors of the economy.


Consumerism in Healthcare

By Scott A. Mason, D.P.A.
Executive Vice President of APACHE/National Health Advisors
Devinder Bawa, DS Bawa Consultants, Inc.

Presented at Health TechNet Meeting
February 15, 2000

A. Purpose of Presentation: Respond to four key questions:

· Who is the new consumer?
· What do they want?
· How is industry responding?
· What’s next?

B. Consumerism Defined (The Old vs. the New Consumer)

1. Need to first Understand the Old Consumer

· Holds belief that MD Stands for Minor Deity
· Does not demand high level of information from provider (whatever you think best)
· Is less demanding in terms of customer service (medical care IS different)
· Used to being somewhat removed from decisions due to existence of third party payment

2. What happened to Old Consumer?

· Societal changes
· Changing economics/cost pressures and access/coverage concerns
· Failure of traditional healthcare systems and providers to meet needs of Old and New Consumers alike
· Increased availability of information

3. Societal changes:

· Image of MDs has changed (Marcus Welby died)
· Image of payors has declined
· People are better educated
· People are more busy
· People are more empowered, expect better

4. Recent events have sowed the seeds of distrust with the Old Consumer:

· Fraud and abuse prosecution (criminal sanctions)
· Patient’s Bill of Rights
· NCQA objective third party review of MCOs

5. Attributes of the New Consumer

· Empowered decision maker
· Demands increased customization, information and customer service
· Better educated, facile with technology
· Dissatisfied with traditional medicine’s response
· Turns increasingly to alternative medicine

6. The New Consumerism Defined

· Fast becoming a key movement (revolution?)
· Involves shift from wholesale to retail
· Medicare is a key driver (everyone has fumbled the ball)
· Dissatisfaction with traditional medicine (nutriceuticals)
· Access to more complete medical information (lack of personal medical patient record)
· Suspicion that managed care is limiting access to services and outcomes (e.g. recent IOM study on medical errors)
· Internet is truly the means to the end

C. What does the New Consumer want?

1. The New Consumer wants what they have always wanted but with a twist
2. Quality, cost and access has ALWAYS been wanted
3. The twist is that:

· Information is no longer credible unless it comes from an external source
· The definition of service now includes clear information, easily accessible
· Administrative hassles no longer tolerated (expect an excellent retail experience)
· Traditional providers may not be allowed to play

D. Provider Responses

1. Responses range widely

· Blur (Davis and Meyer. New York, Perseus Books, 1998 Ernst and Young,) speaks to a 6 way highway (two way emotional, informational, economic)
· Most providers occupy one lane (one way information)

2. I have Bigger fish to fry. (one lane, one way)

· Experiencing significant revenue declines
· Still focused on operations improvement
· Have a web site that is updated 2x annually
· One way, info only. Focused on elderly, patients and people seeking employment. Not integrated with any information flow. No physician component.
· Simply not a priority now because we have not yet achieved equilibrium financially.

3. Yea, we do that. (two lane, one way)

· Web was recently expanded to include physician referral and disease based information. Still one way. Tied into call center by reference (no hyperlink). Feel secure because other web sites of competitors are more basic.
· Marketing has started to talk about branding and attend some related conferences. No sense of urgency.

4. It’s part of our current strategic planning process. (limited two way: information)

· Have made transformation that consumer is driver. Holding focus groups. Recognize importance of branding. Beginning to focus on clinical service lines, as well as service excellence initiative.
· Have a chief medical officer and a chief information officer (who reports to CEO not finance).
· Plan and timeline to include major milestones. Already convinced that two-way info flow is necessary. Other ideas include:

Ø Bulletin boards for support groups
Ø Hyperlink to other info sources
Ø Ability to enter personal health record and set up personal library
Ø Personal health risk assessments
Ø Physician search functions
Ø Appointment scheduling
Ø Facilities virtual tours
Ø Billing review
Ø Prescription filling
Ø Access to equipment catalogues
Ø Hyperlinks to physician and group web pages
Ø Navigation tools for certain disease groups
Ø Intranet to include medical messaging, transcription and provider e-mail
Ø E-mail link to call center

C. What’s Next?

1. Providers beginning to better understand shift to retail
2. Need to expand lanes and migrate to two way traffic
3. Niches are becoming better defined (major action is B to B)

· Generic Consumer destination
Ø Yahoo
Ø Pointcast

· Health Consumer ASP or Channels
Ø Healthwatch
Ø APACHE Medical Systems

· Provider-owned Consumer Channels (attempts at branding)
Ø IntelliHealth
Ø Inova
Ø Mayo

4. HIPAA (1996) will drive a lot of this activity
5. But much of the space is getting real crowded fast!!!!
6. Key Takeaways:

· New consumer is NOT the same as the old consumer
· Regardless, the traditional health system has failed to satisfy the needs of either
· The providers that get it understand the transformation necessary to this new consumer and the potential for branding
· Those that get it recognize the need to build two way, multi-lane highways in the future
· Regardless, the new consumer may only allow providers to play a limited role in their health