Patients have always been front and center in healthcare. They are the reason we all do our jobs. But traditionally, they have played a recipient’s role. Patients typically arrive at the doctor’s office with a condition, inform the doctor of their symptoms and receive treatment based on the doctor’s recommendation. As healthcare models evolve to accommodate pressure to reduce costs, patients will become more invested, both financially and mentally, in their healthcare decisions. In the future we are likely to see patients take a slightly different role as consumers of healthcare, rather than recipients. (For more discussion on how this shift will occur, visit these past posts.)
As the patient experience becomes more central to the healthcare equation, providers and suppliers will have to become more conscious of how to best serve a new consumer of healthcare. And for us as a supplier, patient education will likely become one of our big priorities. Patients are hungry for information on how to make better healthcare decisions. We’re interested in how to eat correctly, how much to exercise, and how much water to drink. This hunger for knowledge will begin to extend further into the healthcare system as we have the power and choice to ask questions like “which of these treatment options has seen better long-term results?” or “given that I have a family history of breast cancer, what can I do now to minimize my risk of developing the disease?”
Historically, educational information on products has been given directly to the physician, who then decides what is best to pass along to the patient. This kind of communication flow should not stop and will remain integral to the treatment process. However, if I were a patient and my physician offered two treatment options, each with pros and cons, the first thing I would do upon arriving home is Google them. I’d want as much information as I could get in order to make the best decision. And I doubt I’m alone in that instinct in this day and age.
So the challenge for medical device suppliers moving forward will be to provide valuable educational information to many different types of people rather than physicians only. And education is only one piece of the puzzle. As we’ve discussed before, patients would likely find value in healthcare being more accessible to them. So how can we use our technology to ensure that more procedures can be done in an outpatient setting? How can mobile technology allow physicians and patients to monitor conditions remotely?
How do you think healthcare will change as the patient experiences takes center stage? What pieces of information would be most helpful to patients trying to make decisions about their health?
David Reed is currently Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Healthcare Business Solutions for Cook Medical Incorporated. With over 30 years of life science industry expertise Dave holds an MBA from California Miramar University and serves as a member of the Indiana University Kelly School of Business Supply Chain and Global Management Academy Advisory Board.