How to Become a Wise Healthcare Consumer

2 min
February 24, 2014

Everyone loves a good deal. As Americans, we pride ourselves on being shrewd consumers—scouring websites like Amazon to make sure we’re getting the best price on the newest smart phone, HD television or appliance that we’ve come to rely on in our daily lives. We are masters of determining the perfect intersection of cost and quality to get the best value for our money.

Yet, when it comes to our healthcare, about which we make some of the most important decisions in our lives, we often don’t do our due diligence. According to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, Americans spend more time researching car purchases and new appliances than they do choosing doctors and health plans. More than half of Americans surveyed in 2011 said they are not confident that shopping around would reduce the cost of healthcare.

As February is “National Wise Health Consumer Month,” there’s no better time to remind people of three things they can do to take control of their health and be smart consumers. First and foremost, we all need to exercise more and make smarter choices about the foods we eat. Second, as patients, we need to remember that secure acccess to our healthcare data is our right, which doctors and hospitals need to comply with. And, we need to demand that it be shared seamlessly so that we get the best care. Third, we need to also demand transparency in both the quality and pricing of healthcare procedures, much like when we’re shopping for a major purchase. Because, the fact is, the more we have access to that information, the more likely we’ll become better consumers of our healthcare.

Unfortunately it is often easier said than done. In my career, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that people are more ready and willing to actively participate in their own health and wellness if the path is easy and the steps simple. But our healthcare system is overburdened and slow to adopt intelligent methods that we have seen in almost all other parts of our lives— making it much harder to take control of our health. There’s no denying that our healthcare system is chronically ill and, frankly, on life support. It is a national crisis impacting our global competitiveness, national security and overall productivity. Almost $750 billion a year is wasted due to a lack of coordinated care and clinical overuse, underuse or misuse.

At West Health, we believe there is a better way. We want a healthcare system that is simple, streamlined and smart. We want healthcare that’s connected and seamlessly sharing data—from a patient’s pulse all the way through to a personal, electronic health record that can be accessed in real-time.

What if we could monitor our health where we live, work and play? What if we were able to get health information on people through cost-effective testing methods that could be used almost anywhere and give real-time results? What if we could move from annual testing to enabling people to take control of their own health with information that is available on a daily basis?

Good health starts with individual choices, but it’s easier with the help of a team, and leaders must step up so that others can follow. Together, we can transform care delivery and reduce the burden of healthcare costs by democratizing technology and information to make accessing healthcare easier and more convenient for every American.