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The Patient of the Future

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 10, 2009
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It's like a waltz, Davis likes to say. You have to know when to lead and when to follow.

Change can come, but slowly, Stone warns.

"Getting societal pressure on changing behavior is not hard to do, but the benefits don't inure overnight," Stone says. "It takes time, but we have seen it in the last 15 years in smoking patterns. I don't think the reduction in smoking has gone down because those people who wanted to smoke suddenly got religion."

In the future, however, employers, health insurers, and government agencies will give people cold, hard cash for healthy behaviors.

Quit smoking, lose weight, join a gym, run a marathon? Ka-ching! There will be incentives for doctors, too, making the whole "I don't get paid to keep people well" argument moot.

Consumerism goes from fad to trend—to reality
The patient of the future demands to know how much each appointment, test, outpatient procedure, or hospital stay will cost them—down to the very last prescription pill. And they use price and quality data to make decisions about where they go for care.

The conventional wisdom is that patients don't understand quality data and they don't care what their treatment costs. And why should they? After all, either insurance pays for their healthcare or they use the emergency room as their primary source for care.

But the idea that patients will become engaged, informed consumers is here to stay, says Keckley. But are medical professionals and the healthcare industry in general prepared?

"No," Keckley says. "For the most part physicians especially are suspicious of this concept of consumerism."

But patients do want to know what their healthcare will cost—and they don't just want a doctor's bill or a hospital bill; they want to know what the total costs are, from drugs to devices, Keckley says. Healthcare reform will also affect this, swelling the numbers of people who have individual policies, which already stands at about 18 million. Many will choose high-deductible plans. Insurance companies and employers will drive change, too. They're saying to providers "you must provide this info," Keckley says.

"This is the beginning of a change," Keckley says. "It's at the bottom of that S curve, but it's a significant, sustainable trend, and increased numbers of end users will reflect these behaviors. It will grow ... We're past the novelty stage of this, and we're probably moving past early adopters. We're into early majority."

Indeed, a full 94% of respondents to Deloitte's consumer study said they believe that healthcare costs are a threat to their personal financial security.

"We're at a point where people on the street are voting with their pocketbooks and they're voting with their feet. It may not be the majority today that through their own behavior and their own purchases are forcing doctors and hospitals to behave differently, but I think that's generational," Keckley says.


This article appears in the September 2009 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.


Gienna Shaw is senior editor for marketing for HealthLeaders Media. She may be contacted at gshaw@healthleadersmedia.com.


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4 comments on "The Patient of the Future"


Rebecca Roe (4/20/2012 at 10:23 AM)
I love the idea of connected services in relation to patient information, websites, all patient data in one location to be viewed at the same time. But I have a question when the computer service is down, when power surges interrupt the process etc, someone hacks the servers, what happens to the flow of the day? I'm always so afraid that we put all our eggs in one basket and then when things don't work perfectly then we become somewhat paralyzed. We all know how that works in our personal world, but what about as a patient? Do I cancel my appointment and wait for a better day?

Nancy Hughes (4/20/2012 at 9:22 AM)
I was not familiar with PAM until I read this article. It makes perfect sense. Patient-centered care is respect for the patient's personal needs, and the most effective care occurs when the patient's predicaments, rights, and preferences are taken into consideration.

Dan Stone (4/18/2012 at 6:09 PM)
Indeed a great read! Some thoughts for you to consider. Some background first... I provide technologies for home care agencies designed to improve the delivery of care for seniors at home. Our products detect wandering, provide remote vital sign monitoring and even help caregivers understand certain ADL's when a senior is home alone. If something abnormal is detected, an instant email or text is generated and sent to the network of care givers. These tools have proven to increase care plan adherence and patient interactions levels. The results are simple, fewer hospitalizations. I am perplexed however. I have found that home care agencies are resistant to leverage these products. They feel these products facilitate "rationed care" or potentially take away from billable hours at home. My favorite is "you can't replace care with a computer" Indeed that is not the case nor would we ever claim such a silly thing. My question is: How can we encourage professional home care agencies to leverage these devices as a part of their offering? Would you hire a home care agency to look care for you mother that used these tools to help deliver care? What are your thoughts? Feel free to reach out. Dan Stone- Assured Independence / dstone@assuredindependence.com