Recently, I sat down with the folks at Health 2.0 to discuss my upcoming web class on healthcare consumerism — The Future of Health Care Consumerism: A Look Forward to 2014. I’m excited that groups such as Health 2.0 are using technology to connect people with similar passions. Consumerism has been a driving force in my career, and will continue to be a hot topic for many years to come. I look forward to discussing it more with class participants this Thursday! Below is an excerpt from my interview.
1. What has your experience in the healthcare space taught you about healthcare consumerism?
Having been at this for more than a few years now – first with comparative quality and cost information and now private marketplaces – I’ve learned that the true game changer in healthcare is the American shopper. And for good reason: They are spending more of their own money as rising health costs are shifted to them. And they are demanding value in healthcare as in other facets of their lives. Ultimately, the consumer experiences in other industries – like retail and financial services – will continue to drive new expectations of the health system.
2. Over the course of your career, where have you seen consumer-facing business succeed and fail in health care?
Last month, I wrote a blog post about the controversial launch of HealthCare.gov, and why – in a nutshell – “everyone needs to calm down.” Much of the media, and even leaders in our industry, keep referring to the site as a “failure.” What’s happening with this roll out is not a failure but a stumble – one that is getting resolved as we speak. As consumer-driven organizations and leaders in the health industry, we have a critical responsibility to step up to educate people and help them make good choices about their health. When we’re not doing that, we’ve failed.
New companies are changing the way people think about their health and healthcare by increasing engagement, transparency and health and financial literacy of their consumers. Long-standing successes include Eliza (elizacorporation.com), while more recent successes include HealthcareDIY.com, Greatist.com and Wello.com.
3. Your upcoming Health 2.0 EDU course focuses on the future of healthcare consumerism. Keeping in mind that topic of discussion, how do you expect to see the Baby Boomer generation influence healthcare consumerism in the coming years?
As the largest generation of Americans born in the U.S., baby boomers will continue to dramatically influence every industry, especially healthcare. The reality is this: Medicare, as it is today, cannot support the ongoing wave of Boomers, especially when millions of them are signing up for Medicare annually. As a result, Boomers will have to make hard choices regarding their health-related dollars. I believe they will demand more cost and quality transparency the way they do in a retail experience. I also think they will rely more on fitness facilities, personal trainers, spas and other medical alternatives to get the care they need.
4. What about 2014 will be different for consumers? A more competitive market? More engaged buyers?
As health reform continues to roll out, one of the biggest changes for consumers will hit right on January 1, when having health insurance officially becomes required by law. This will continue to underscore the need for cost and quality transparency for consumers in healthcare. Consequently, we will see everything discussed above: a more competitive market and more engaged health-care shoppers.