Today we honor Regina Herzlinger for the fashion in which she has paved the way for consumer-driven health care. The concept of patients as consumers can leave physicians and patients scratching their heads and political parties arguing over things most patients don’t even understand like Medicare fee schedules and list prices. Ladies and gentlemen, it does not have to be that complicated. All you need to do is recognize that subscribing to Ms. Herzlinger’s concept of consumer-driven health care is not only smart, but it’s better for everyone in the long run.
Coining the term consumer-driven care, Herzlinger has given patients the power to be advocates for their own care. Simply calling patients what they really are, consumers, Herzlinger changes the connotation associated with the stigma of patients making their own care decisions. All too often, patients are passive in the process of determining which physician becomes responsible for their care when they are in need of specialized service. These patients are unaware that they even have an option, they simply think, Well my primary care doctor recommended I go to Doctor A so I guess that’s what I will do. Regardless of the fact that Doc. A can cost triple the price of Doctor B in the long-run.
Herzlinger has her opinions on the many facets of health reform. However, we are not here to discuss whether universal coverage is right or wrong. We are here to highlight the ways her health care opinions have influenced our care, viewing patients in a more empowering role and pushing for more transparency in the market. Her book, Who Killed Health Care? discusses America’s health care debt issues and how consumer-driven care is the cure. She has commented saying that the health care profession needs transparency in the same way that the financial world gets transparency from the SEC. Of course, in this case she was referring to national expenditures and professionals, but it got us thinking about making more pricing information available to patients.
Better transparency in health care is necessary for patient consumers to make smart decisions about the quality of their purchases. Whether someone is purchasing a TV or an MRI, it stands to reason that having as much information available as possible would make for a more confident purchasing decision. So why would physicians not want to list the prices of their services, especially optional, yet necessary procedures like mammograms, where price becomes an important component of patients getting the care they need.
The goal of Save On Medical is to help patient-consumers do a better job of price shopping for their care, but in order for that to happen, physicians must do a better job of listing prices and providing quality care. Herzlinger has done a stand-up job of spreading the importance of this and paved a way of thinking that will benefit patients exponentially over the upcoming years, no matter the path health care takes. So for this, we thank you, for helping us make our goal a reality.