As we think about creating value for those we serve, a major component is making sure we view those that consume the goods we produce as partners in the decision making process. Though this might seem obvious, healthcare has historically not taken this approach. Payments have not been made by those consuming the resources, and the resources (healthcare) have chosen not to focus on educating those they serve in a manner which is understandable or helpful.
There has been a great deal of focus on creating financial transparency. It’s becoming routine to ask, “How much does a procedure cost?” Payment risk has shifted more towards the consumer with high-deductible plans, and there is a movement to increase the level of free market activity around the purchasing of healthcare services.
In order for this to be successful, there also needs to be a level of transparency around the healthcare needed by those that use it. The healthcare industry has long argued by their actions that the general users of their services are not in a position to truly understand; therefore we should not put them in such a quandary. This view is flawed. We are now being judged on shared decision making, so why do we not focus as an industry on how to better inform, educate, and be transparent with those who are being impacted? The human being has a great ability to survive, and thus adapt. That is how we are designed.
It is up to us to help create the transparency models around how to better work with those we serve, so they have a much better idea of what we are even talking about. An additional benefit will be that we will feel more successful as our patients/consumers will be an integral part of the discussion. They will be better informed, we will have greater conversations, and then maybe the results will be better. At least the services will be truly understood and wanted!
Other industries have made this leap. We need to empower those we serve so we can be true partners in their care. Let us not underestimate the power of understanding, instead let’s work on helping solve the gap of knowledge in a manner that is understandable. I am not suggesting we make every individual into their own clinician, but to be aware of the value those we serve bring to the conversation around their care and their needs. Let us take the lead on resolving this transparency divide, both on pricing and information.