It was not that long ago when it was heresy to talk about the consumer and healthcare in the same sentence. We, as consumers, did not help the situation. Many of us did not feel we knew that much about healthcare. It was generally something that was ‘done’ to us. As a result, we did not feel we had ‘standing’ or the ‘right’ to talk about it with the professionals to whom we entrusted our well-being.
- Approximately half of the U.S. population received healthcare insurance through their employers. Many received some sort of government-funded insurance which gave us access to healthcare services either through Medicare, Medicaid, or the Veteran’s Administration.
- Consumers had to pay out of pocket. And here, unlike in other areas of healthcare delivery, they behaved as consumers do in other parts of their lives. They shopped, and they looked for cost and quality evidence about why they should go to one facility/provider over another.
- It is the economic disconnect between the patient/consumer and healthcare systems that have been a big factor in the rise of healthcare costs. But it has not been the focus of most of the intervention coming from CMS.
- We are headed towards a market-based model in healthcare, one characterized by greater accountability, payment connected to outcomes that matter, and greater transparency in both cost and quality. It is time for greater partnership across the board.
- We need better educated healthcare consumers who need to make better choices to impact their own health outcomes. We need to engage differently in partnership with the healthcare professionals we need and should be able to rely on. And we need a financing mechanism that ensures our incentives are all aligned to deliver better health outcomes at a lower total cost.