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This is another hot topic that seems to be sweeping the healthcare industry.  

Healthcare executives are beginning to talk about the concept but not everyone is completely comfortable in terms of defining what this really means or how it will impact the way we market and operate our businesses. This actually reminds me of the confusion that reigned when the term Population Health Management was first introduced. A lot of people bandied it around without fully understanding its meaning.  In fact, there are people still debating what that phrase will ultimately mean. My working definition, which is simplistic but still gains nods of approvals, is: A form of case management for a community or specific population cohort.

Today I want to provide you the best definition of consumerism that I have found thus far, and then take pause and look at how this new wave of change will impact the job market and your career management.

“Healthcare consumerism transforms an employer’s health benefit plan, putting the economic purchasing power and decision-making in the hands of plan participants. In short, healthcare consumerism’s goal is to enable patients to become wholly involved in their healthcare decisions,” according to DataPath, a Little Rock consultancy that works in the benefits management space.

According to NRC Health, from the provider’s perspective, healthcare consumerism is designed to:

  • Foster closer communications and cooperation between doctors and their patients
  • Increase patient buy-in and compliance with treatment recommendations
  • Increase patients’ knowledge and awareness of lifestyle and wellness practices
  • Focus more on preventative medicine by encouraging healthy activities and habits

Consumerism fundamentally changes how patients see their  responsibility in the healthcare system and this change could, probably will, impact how hospitals and other providers will manage their enterprise.

It is relatively safe to predict that consumerism, as another pillar in a broader effort to shift from a fee-for-service model with a sick-care orientation to an approach that funnels more information and decision-making power to consumers, will impact how we organize and staff the healthcare delivery platforms — from hospitals to ambulatory care interactions.

Consumerism and other innovations will require leaders who are open to, and understand, change, and who can bring a different set of competences/skills to the leadership table  to harness the attendant innovation. 

Healthcare organizations are finding that the tide of interest in consumerism is driving innovation, according to a report in Modern Healthcare.   In some organizations, it is driving disruptions in the leadership ranks,  “We are finding a lot of innovations can occur without the use of technology but with changing the team and changing the thinking, “ said Dennis Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana University Health System.

If you feel you are coming up short in know-how and skills department to adjust to these events, now is the time to invest in mastering these new concepts. Now is not the time to dig in your heels on change.