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Get Ready for Shift from Patient to Healthcare Consumer

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 27, 2012

We are not yet at the point where factors and prompts that consumers weigh for healthcare purchases are driven by the same incentives as buying furniture or a new set of tires.

At the same time, providers and payers would be unwise to think that basic consumer values that include price, quality, selection, convenience and service don't apply to healthcare.

The rise of the high-deductible health insurance plan and other economic forces are increasingly turning patients into healthcare consumers. Common sense says that more "skin in the game" will reduce utilization as healthcare consumers will rethink elective care or shop around for the best deal.

When they opt for a course of treatment they will be more demanding and less forgiving of bad service when they're paying more of the cost. That's the way it is with all other goods and services and healthcare, after all, is close to consuming 20% of the Gross Domestic Product.

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