Where do many people go for their first opinions about their health? The Internet. WebMD, Google, Wikipedia and Patients Like Me offer a wealth of knowledge for at-home remedies or possible diagnoses. Even Dr. Oz offers online advice for how to alleviate symptoms. People often research before they head to their scheduled appointments and offer the doctor a list of possible diagnoses and medication options. Facebook offers opinions and advice from your closest friends, relatives or complete strangers. With information at our fingertips, it’s easier to gather advice than to wait for a doctor’s appointment.
When we define consumers, they’re people who purchase goods and services for personal use. Healthcare consumers, similarly, purchase products and services such as medication and devices to aid in their health or use a physician’s services.
If this is the case, why is there so much debate about interchanging the terms “patient” and “consumer?” Some say it can undermine the trust in the doctor-patient relationship and create the perception that it’s an economic transaction.
How we choose physicians varies greatly. Some patients pick a physician from their insurance directory based on geography or alphabetical listing. Some patients shop around based on referrals from friends and family to see which doctor best fits their schedules and preferences.
This decision process demonstrates how patients can be considered consumers. Consumerism is not making light of the doctor-patient relationship; rather, it’s empowering the patient to make better healthcare decisions based on their personal and financial needs.
This post was previoiusly published by Transvisional Thinking.
August 06, 2015