With healthcare increasingly becoming a consumer-driven market, many patients are more acutely aware of the process and costs behind their healthcare. High deductible health plans have added a new layer to the patient / physician relationship, and physicians now have the opportunity to meet – and help define – the emerging patient-as-a-customer standards.  

High Deductible Plans 

High deductible health plans are popular among both consumers and companies who offer employee health care benefits. While healthcare consumers do have significantly higher deductibles under these plans, and therefore, are responsible for more out-of-pocket medical costs, they pay a smaller monthly premium. Many people choose to set aside the money saved on premiums away for health-related expenses in tax-free health savings accounts (HSA). Consumers get more control over the health care decisions, and insurance companies foot less of the bills.  

Now, as more patients make the decision to utilize high deductible health plans, many physicians are finding that patients ask more questions about their health care and the additional costs that may arise. Additionally, because patients are spending more from their own pockets, their expectations are higher. 

Transparency and Patient Experience 

Physicians are responding to healthcare shifting to a consumer-driven market by not only providing price transparency, but also care transparency. Today’s healthcare consumers expect frictionless transactions in their physician’s office. Additionally, patients have elevated expectations around service standards and the quality of their healthcare. This shift means physicians must manage each patient’s expectations around appropriate care and outcomes. By educating patients in the beginning about realistic outcomes and appropriate care plans, physicians can mitigate the risk of a patient having an unpleasant experience in the medical office.  

Further, since many patients are taking on more financial responsibility for their medical care, physicians now have the opportunity to explain the necessary care in terms of dollars and cents. These conversations can help deter patients from demanding tests that are either not required at the time or are completely unnecessary. This allows the physician and patient to work together to determine an optimal, cost-effective care plan. Patients gain a feeling of control over their own care, which improves their level of patient satisfaction.  

The idea of healthcare becoming  more consumer driven may seem challenging.  However, it gives physicians an opportunity to align their workflows and practice management policies to create a better patient experience. This creates an environment for building long-term, loyal patient relationships. 

Contact us to learn more about how Practice Partners can help your medical practice better meet the needs of today’s healthcare consumers.