OC Reilly Blog: Consumerism – A Trend Worth Watching
By George Vunovic, Executive Vice President, Technologies, OC Reilly Inc.
(June 20, 2016)–As pressure continues to contain costs while providing high quality healthcare, a rising tide of consumerism can be felt across the industry – and experts warn that every aspect of healthcare can expect to be affected to some degree.
Consumerism refers to the wishes and demands of consumers to have a greater influence on the products and services provided to them. Consumerism means that consumers become more proactive and less reactive in the transactions they conduct with product and service providers.
The phenomenon began in the retail goods industry and has spread to other verticals, including healthcare. Joseph J. Fifer, president and CEO of HFMA, writes about consumerism in the February 2016 edition of Healthcare Financial Management magazine.*
“In finance, when we think about consumerism, it’s often from a revenue cycle perspective,” Fifer states. “But we also need to think about the impact of consumerism from a strategic perspective. Consumerism has the potential to have dramatic impact on our service lines and revenue streams going forward.” Fifer goes on to reference such healthcare services as lab tests and blood work, citing consumers’ growing insistence on deciding which tests they want to have performed, and where.
But, assuming that this line of thinking holds water – and it does – other elements of the healthcare spectrum could be just as seriously affected by consumerism. Medical equipment would appear to be a logical area.
Few parts of the healthcare spectrum look and feel as close to product purchases as medical equipment. As consumers begin to assert more input and control over their total healthcare picture, citing their preferences – or at least feeling confident enough to ask more pointed questions about which pieces of medical equipment are being recommended – simply makes sense. The industry would be well served to prepare for this trend to expand and become more pronounced in the years to come.
“One thing is clear,” Fifer concludes in his article. “Consumerism will drive change in our service lines and the way we do business on the most fundamental levels…Rather than fighting to hold on to traditional ways, we should look for opportunities to collaborate with consumers and other stakeholders when new approaches have the potential to better meet consumer needs and deliver more value.”