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A Letter to Healthcare Providers from a Consumer

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 8, 2014

If you want me to pay $3,000 for an MRI, you'd better be able to explain why I need it. And if the doc-in-the-box down the street can do the MRI for less, I'll have them send you a copy of the images. If it's 2 AM and the emergency department is my only option, you'd better be prepared to provide a detailed list of charges when you present my bill, and you can expect that I will haggle.

I will not pay $100 for an ice pack or $30 for an aspirin. And don't slap me with a "facilities fee." What it costs you to keep your doors open and your lights on is not my concern. Finally, don't expect me to pay additional fees six months or a year down the road when you correct a mistake on my bill.

3. I Want it Now
Don't make me take time off from work to sit in your waiting room for an hour for a harried 15-minute visit with a physician's assistant and a $150 bill. Drug stores are open 24/7. Banks are open later. Even airlines are more consumer friendly than providers!

Extend your office hours later in the day and on weekends to accommodate my schedule. Provide easy Internet access to my personal health account. Improve office scheduling so that I don't have to wait long. Have someone available for telephone consultations. Ensure that your office is easily accessible and close to my home.

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10 comments on "A Letter to Healthcare Providers from a Consumer"


Jane Orient (1/20/2014 at 1:01 PM)
YOu are welcome as a patient if you value my services. I expect honesty and transparency from patients also.

Stephen E. Galya (1/17/2014 at 8:17 PM)
I was quite disappointed by Mr. Commins statement about physician assistants, and not physician's assistant as he put it. This gentleman obviously has no idea of the training PA's go though, or what they are capable of doing. I have been a PA for 21 years, and currently work in family practice, and manage patients with hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, and other chronic conditions. We as PA's work hard, and research has shown that patients are at times more satisfied with our care than MD's. A truly hurtful and disappointing statement. This man should have done some research.

G Constantinopolos, MD, MBA (1/14/2014 at 10:12 PM)
Transparency and communication is a must indeed. However we must all speak the same language. Too many people in this country consider healthcare a social "good" which they are entitled to as it is the right to walk in a house workship and pray. But the providers see it as a market " good" for which a financial transaction is due. Physicians are not a commodity as the insurance plans seem to believe. The time is coming when you will have to pay a good premium to select a physician who is an expert in his field. As a consumer you know you get what you pay for. But I would also agree that the unchallenged super inflated hospital charges should come to an end. It is now clear that hospitals are big profitable businesses with little if any concern to their captive customer base. They can not operate within the non profit arena trying to compete with the private practitioners who have supportersd them through the good and bad times Hospitals and their highly paid administrators offer no care, they just facilitate, it is the physicians who do that !