1. Cost is impacting consumer involvement
Insurance coverage changes are accelerating with higher deductibles and copays as employers struggle to control cost. Employees impacted by these changes and are becoming more price- sensitive to the services that they are paying a larger percentage of the cost to receive. Consequently they are asking more questions about services, cost, and seeking cost saving options.
The internet is a vast resource of information and most people now use search engines to research their symptoms before they visit a health care provider. When the doctor visit happens, they are in many ways seeking a second opinion. Doctors are adapting to this new reality. Those who embrace this trend may find it leads to better diagnosis and patient understanding.
3. Alternative Approaches
All the information available on the internet regarding research, opinions and care alternatives can lead patients to seek supplemental therapies beyond what physicians prescribe. Doctors can expect that many patients will not simply do what they direct. Some will take additional action in the form of supplements, alternative care, or even options outside of traditional Western medicine.
4. Medical Shopping
Patients are demanding pricing transparency in procedures and products. Comparison shopping for care is increasing and providers equipped to quote accurate pricing before care is administered are more trustworthy than those who can’t or won’t. This trend should force lower prices for care over time.
5. Focus on Fitness
Americans are embracing healthier lifestyles in seeking options for exercise and the food that they eat. This trend is expected to lead to increased vitality and longer lifespans, but can also boost the need for repair medicine like neuromuscular and orthopedic care related to exercise injuries.
6. Alternatives and Substitutes
Herbal remedies, specialty diets and homeopathic therapies are examples of treatments that patients seek to complement or substitute for traditional medicine. Websites and social media platforms offer vast information and instruction on the use of these therapies and many patients are turning to them to reduce cost, side effects or efficacy.
7. Emergence of Medical Apps
Smartphones and wearable devices enable consumers to monitor everything from steps to caloric intake, heart rate, blood tests and even EKGs. This technology is exploding, giving patients unprecedented insight into how lifestyle impacts health. It also serves as an early detection system that helps identify issues quickly and will lead to greater longevity.
8. ‘Clean’ Eating
Consumers are more and more demanding organic and natural foods. Most all grocery stores are rapidly expanding organic sections, sourcing food from local farmers and labeling wild-caught seafood. Cleaner eating is predicted to lead to a decline in many diseases of accumulation like dementias, cancers and cardiopulmonary disease.
9. Better Information
The ACA’s requirement for providers to better automate has led to the improvement of data shared with patients which is expected to lead to better treatment results. Today’s consumers have plenty of options and they know it. Responsive and technically advanced providers will have more success in meeting expectations.
10. Medical Consulting
Insurers recognize more and more how confusing complex medical conditions can be for patients. In an effort to improve outcomes and reduce cost for both the patient and the insurer, many insurance companies provide customized personal confidential medical consulting at no charge to the patient.
Western Grocers Trust provides such consultative services to members who could benefit. To learn more, click ProHealth Advisor.