Cost & The Healthcare Consumer - Part 1
It is no secret that the Healthcare landscape is continually changing, and has gone through significant changes just in the last 12-18 months. This will not be a conversation about insurance programs, the Affordable Healthcare Act -- what most people refer to as "Obama-care", or the every morphing policies of Medicare.
What I do want to discuss is the idea of the Healthcare Consumer. In recent past, the common course of patient flow went something like this: Person with low back pain, as an example, goes to their Primary Care Physician's practice. Physician sees patient, determines initial treatment plan, and then makes referrals as he/she feels appropriate. Let's say patient is sent for x-rays, given a prescription for a muscle relaxant, and is referred to the Physical Therapy clinic down the hall. In this scenario it was likely that the patient would simply go get their x-rays, stop at the pharmacy and pick up their medications, and go to the PT down the hall, particularly if their insurance covers it all.
Why? Because all of these things were initiated and referred by the provider they know and trust. Clearly this must be the best course of action, after all, they are the Doctor and the PT down the hall must be the best in town since they become an extension of that Primary Care Physician, right? Maybe....Maybe not.
Now fast forward to today's Healthcare marketplace. While some people will still fit the example laid out previously, many are taking a more active role in their care.
They want to contain cost.
They want to see the"best" providers.
They want to do what they can to return to their perceived level of ideal health.
Being a Consumer is far different than simply being a patient and following the flow of referrals as they are given. Patients are looking for Value in the services they are receiving. They are willing to shop around for the best cost and quality in services in the same way they seek out a mechanic for their car, a Hairdresser, an Attorney, or a Landscaper.
So, the question then becomes "How do you measure Value in Healthcare?" In the field of Physical Therapy, what is it that Healthcare Consumer, aka New Patient/Client, sees as having value? What is it that they perceive as value, so much so that they book an appointment and become a client in your practice?
This is an important question that every private practice owner looks to answer. But it is also one that we as Healthcare consumers ourselves must also be able to answer. We make that decision, often in a split second, but do we really know why or what drives it?
Here's are a few quick examples of conversations that I hear quite often. In the next segment, I will address my responses:
Potential Client (PC) Questions/Comments:
These are all statements, and many off them are misinformed or show that the PC does not see the value in the Physical Therapy practice in question. It is important to recognize that these are not decisions or answers, these are statements which need clarification, and perhaps with a little explanation, the person will decide to give PT a try.
In the next piece I will give my answers to all of those statements above, which hopefully will give my fellow Healthcare Consumers more questions to ask and more ways to spot value when looking to make a decision on which provider to choose.
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Thank you for stopping by the Athletes Physiotherapy Blog! Kristopher Bosch founded Athletes Physiotherapy in Las Vegas, NV. He is a Father, physical therapist, athletic trainer, pilates teacher, & perpetual student!
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