Relationship Between Patients and Consumers


There is a complex relationship between patients and consumers in the healthcare industry. Previously, the medical practitioners viewed the sick as persons who relied on them for the improvement of their health. However, there has been a general alteration of attitude due to the changes in mindset among the people. As a result, the sector is taking up the shape of a typical commercial marketplace (Holtz, 2016). Here, the individuals are taking a greater role in the management of their well-being, and they can negotiate for better services or decide on a medical facility to attend. Consequently, insurance companies have been forced to change their mode of operations to adapt to the dynamic changes in health care. To understand the extent of this transformation, it is critical to find out why the members of the community are now considered as potential consumers of healthcare. Additionally, it is essential to investigate why this was not the historical view of healthcare.

Primarily, the consumers have adequate information to shop for their ideal doctors. Due to the rising costs of medical care, patients are expected to contribute a certain percentage to the reimbursement amount provided by the insurance companies. As a result, they carefully select the medical practitioner that provides quality services at an affordable price. Since many doctors are averse to discussing the fee structure, individuals are forced to inquire. They apply the law of demand, where the consumers will only obtain the service at the price that they are able to afford comfortably. The patients- as consumers- also employ their negotiation skills to obtain the best deal in the market. This is a significant movement from the passive patients to active consumers who seek to fulfill their personal interest.

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Secondly, increased family involvement in medical decisions has a significant influence on the patient’s choices. Due to the emergence of more incidences of chronic diseases over the years, friends and relatives have become more involved in the health of their loved ones in various ways. They play an active role in the determination of the health center and doctors that will attend to their companions. This trend is common among patients that suffer from long-term illnesses such as heart diseases, dementia, and other mental illnesses. Some of these families prefer home care, where they can closely monitor and participate in the wellness program as well as the nursing home services. Therefore, the decision-making process has evolved to match what takes place in the common marketplace. As such, the first step towards selecting a health center is planning on the amount of money to spend on seeking treatment. Consumers then identify various alternatives, which are based on the information search conducted in the health sector, and select the option that best serves their interests as well as expenditure. The last step is the implementation of the preferred choice.

People also hold expectations on the type of services that should be provided by the medical practitioners. In competitive markets, the consumer expectations play a significant role in the type of behavior exhibited by the various participant’s (Austin, Bentkover, & Chait, 2016). Similarly, patients now expect the healthcare providers to offer satisfactory aid when they visit the medical facilities. The quality of service is measured regarding speed, the effectiveness of the treatment program, counseling, and follow-ups carried out to enhance their recovery from illnesses. Consumers are also keen on the availability of a friendly and clean environment at the healthcare institutions. If the patients’ anticipation is not entirely met, they are likely to abandon the clinic in search of a better alternative. They accomplish this objective easily because there is greater flexibility in changing the health provider under the existing insurance policies. 

Previously, players within the healthcare industry did not consider patients to be consumers. Instead, a bilateral relationship existed between the patient and the doctor. The former completely adhered to the instructions of the latter without questions. For instance, patients listened to the doctors’ advice on the best medical facility to check into without debate. However, this submissiveness was enhanced by the lack of relevant information on various medical conditions. As a result, doctors were accorded the highest possible level of respect, hence the willingness of the people to follow their suggestions without question. However, the availability of more information- which has been facilitated by the introduction of the internet- on various medical conditions has empowered the patient’s (Graffigna, 2016). Additionally, it has set the trend for the movement of the industry perception from patients to consumer relationship.

In conclusion, it is evident that the relationship in the health sector is changing from patient to a consumer-based approach. The sick have more power to make major decisions such as where to obtain medical services or the doctor that will attend to them. However, this transformation would not have been possible without the technology that has brought information closer to the people.

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  1. Austin, J., Bentkover, J., & Chait, L. (2016). Leading strategic change in an era of healthcare transformation. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  2. Graffigna, G. (2016). Promoting patient engagement and participation for effective healthcare reform. Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global.
  3. Holtz, C. (2016). Global healthcare : issues and policies. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
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