Consumerism: Healthcare Transparency, Will You Thrive Or Survive


Earlier this week I had the privilege of participating in the #HCLDR (transcript) discussion on Tuesday evening. This week they had a special guest as part of the conversation, Dr. Leana Wen. She is an ER physician and author of “The Doctor Is In” that is changing the game when it comes to transparency and the relationship with her patients. She has developed her own methodology called, “Total Transparency Manifesto” where she puts everything out there in the open for all to see: Educational, Professional, Financial, Personal, and Philosophy. (Click here to find her manifesto)

I wasn’t able to stay the entire conversation, but for the first half, it really sparked some interesting dialogue and made me think of this as it relates to the shift in balance with consumerism in healthcare.

How does transparency in healthcare impact consumers?

I am a firm believer in the fact that we live in a connection economy. As Seth Godin has stated before, “The connection economy enables endless choice and endless shelf space and puts a premium on attention and on trust, neither of which is endless.”

Which is just as prevalent in healthcare as it is anyplace else. The difference is that historically consumers didn’t care about the premium in healthcare because it was hidden behind a curtain. Balance is shifting. The curtain is lifting. Transparency is as easy as the internet. We carry it in our book bags, purses, and pockets.

The level of transparency that Dr. Leana Wen is generating is exactly the level of information consumers desire to earn their trust, capture their attention, and gain their loyalty.

The larger risk to healthcare and its practitioners is what if you are not this transparent? In an age when people can use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Web MD, Google, and the other multiple forms of information gathering sites, imagine the risk to healthcare if a consumer discovers that a potential tie exists to a topic that is not valued by a consumer?

Lack of trust, negative attention, amplification and the perception that one is trying to “hide” something from a consumer. In a healthcare world that is beginning to move towards freedom of choice, and there is plenty of choice in the marketplace, the difference between transparency and disclosure could mean the difference between thriving and survival.

I also believe that this needs to work bidirectionally. Consumers need to be just as transparent with physicians and the rest of the healthcare community. I made this very comment and @TomVargheseJr asked me to respond in what form or fashion. I mentioned topics such as high deductibles, insurance, and co-pays. These things may be highly important to patients and they may ask, request, or push physicians to act in a specific manner to help them maneuver the fragmented system of healthcare.

Shortly after this conversation there was an article that was shared by @jchevinsky via the LA Times entitled, “Are Catholic Hospitals Bad For Women’s Health? ACLU Says Yes” This sparked another interesting conversation between the two of us.

Jennifer made some wonderful points on access to healthcare being an issue for some consumers. More importantly, that if a consumer only has access to a Catholic Healthcare Organization and wants specific types of care, that he or she may not be able to access those services due to the doctrine of Catholicism and how their Healthcare Organizations Practice.

On the reverse side of this discussion is the fact that consumerism drives choice. In most areas of the American Healthcare landscape, there is more than a single choice for care, and if the organizations were truly transparent with the communities they produce goods and services for, then consumers could readily decide which one to frequent based on their own values, needs, and wants. (granted due to insurance it is not always a freedom of choice)

Again, transparency isn’t just about cost of care and pricing. It has to be at the level that Dr. Wen has championed in her Transparency Manifesto. It cannot be limited to just physicians, but to everyone that makes up the healthcare ecosystem. Providers, organizations, ancillary staff, insurance, and consumers.

When a consumer goes in to see a physician, that physician has the privilege to see the person up close, personal, and in a completely vulnerable state. Emotionally and physically. The physician and staff take in all of this information related back to the story of that person and the reason(s) for being at the appointment.

Consumers need to have the same ability of their healthcare team. Consumers wan to know what is their story. Where did you go to school, where you trained, what affiliations you have with other medical entities, what financial or research attachments you may hold, papers you have written, some personal information, and what your own personal philosophy is towards care.

Consumers want to know what is the story of their healthcare team. The good and the bad. (yes healthcare can even develop trust by sharing the mishaps too)

Perhaps if both sides are transparent and honest with one another a dialogue will occur and the balance can shift from delivering service to cultivating value.

My personal philosophy that is at the top of my resume/CV is as follows:

We live in a time of the “connection economy.” People have an abundance of choice, an abundance of knowledge, and an abundance of opinions. In order to win we must connect with people.

People connect through stories. Transparency is a powerful story.

Are you bold enough to write your own transparency story?

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcpt #consumerism #hcbiz

2 responses to “Consumerism: Healthcare Transparency, Will You Thrive Or Survive

  1. Well said, CancerGeek. Happy to be part of this growing movement with you!

  2. Pingback: Seeker Solutions

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