Are Patients Investors or Customers?
Patients are increasingly being labeled as “customers” in the current era of health care. Perhaps a better counterpoint to the patient-physician relationship is an “investor” instead of a “customer.”
Investors use their money to enter a world of investing that requires a level of detail and monitoring that most people are unwilling to engage in. Of course, nothing is meant to prevent investors from learning more about their investments and making direct decisions. Still, there is an apparent knowledge asymmetry between the investor and the financial advisor (healthcare provider).
Some people use websites and can self-invest for a small fee, just as people can use internet sites to diagnose and self-treat in this day and age. However, many others use providers as their “health care analysts,” providing facts and steering them away from poor decisions to maximize their investment.
So, what is the investor owed? As with any business, one hopes to keep its investors happy by providing positive returns.
Transparency is a hot topic in the financial world and is quickly becoming a buzzword in the healthcare industry. Investors are given several prospectuses during their investments, and they expect changes in investment strategies to be reviewed and notifications to be issued as they occur.
Similarly, patients and families have a right to be informed about medical decisions that alter the course of events or results that influence decision-making. In today’s healthcare environment, many patients become more involved in their healthcare decisions and want to be a part of the decision-making process. Through electronic health records offered by Software Finder, patient portals enable patients to view their own health “prospectus.”
In the financial world, communication with investors is highly valued. Any transaction involving an address change triggers an alert to the investor, which can take several forms, including email, letter, or phone call.
Patients, too, want their providers to communicate with them in a clear, timely, and honest manner. Therefore, mechanisms for ensuring communication, such as provider emails, telemedicine, and social media, are opportunities to increase patient or investor satisfaction.
Finally, a relationship between the investor and their investment firm is emphasized within the investment world. Investment decisions are based on the investor’s goals, lifestyle, and dreams.
The emphasis should be the same in healthcare. Likewise, a patient’s experience should always consider their life goals, lifestyle, and objectives. How they are addressed in healthcare will directly impact the patient-physician relationship.
If you consider your patients to be investors, you must recognize the valuable life they are investing in. As health care providers, you are obligated to support and respect the investment through transparent communication and a relationship worthy of such a valuable investment. These efforts result in satisfaction for not only the patient investor but also for their provider.