Patients as Consumers Is Compatible With Comprehensive Care

In the early years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there was a lot of talk about patient-centered care. We seemed to collectively want to get rid of the fee-for-service model and transition to a model based on patient satisfaction. We have gotten away from that thinking. However, it is starting to reemerge in comprehensive care with the idea that patients can be treated as consumers.


The ‘patients as consumers’ mindset seems to run contrary to the whole point of healthcare. Healthcare isn’t supposed to be about profits. It is not supposed to be about bottom lines, margins, and mergers & acquisitions. And yet there is some validity to the idea of treating patients like consumers. After all, they are paying for services rendered.


Patient Satisfaction in Healthcare


Despite the altruistic nature of medicine, we cannot deny the fact that our healthcare system is profit driven. And because it is, patients have choices. If they do not like their primary care physicians, they can start looking for new ones. Patients can shop around to find the best price on diagnostic tests, blood work, and so forth. Guess what? Many do.


Any healthcare provider looking to maintain market share would want to pay attention to what makes patients happy. After all, happy patients return time and again. But this isn’t the way American healthcare works. And why is that? It is a supply and demand thing.


Not Enough Providers


No matter where you look, there is an acute shortage of providers across the entire healthcare spectrum. Providers do not have to worry about patient satisfaction so much because they know that for every patient they lose, there are five more waiting to be accepted into the practice. Supply and demand favor the suppliers right now, leaving patients in a position of weakness.


The thing is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Just because healthcare providers can get away with not treating patients as consumers, this doesn’t mean they should. The ethical thing to do is to strive to ensure that patients are both healthy and satisfied.


Patient Satisfaction In Comprehensive Care


Now, let us apply the patient satisfaction concept to comprehensive care. The experts at Utah-based KindlyMD explain that ‘comprehensive care’ is a broad term used to describe a multidisciplinary approach toward patient health. A patient’s healthcare needs are addressed at the physical, emotional, mental, and social levels.


Physically, comprehensive care looks at every aspect of health from a biological perspective. Mentally and emotionally, comprehensive care addresses how thoughts and emotions impact wellbeing. Socially, comprehensive care addresses the social factors that impact a person’s health.


Treating patients as consumers is fully compatible with a comprehensive care approach. Of course, healthcare providers want patients to feel better physically. But from the mental and emotional side of things, satisfaction is an undeniable part of a patient’s wellbeing. A patient unsatisfied with his treatment is not likely to feel as good physically.


Patient satisfaction touches the social aspects of comprehensive care as well. When a patient is left unsatisfied with social conditions and surroundings, better wellbeing is hard to achieve. But help a patient overcome the social aspects and you are on your way to seeing a more satisfied patient who feels better.


Patients Deserve to Be Satisfied Consumers


The idea of patients being treated as consumers doesn’t sit well with a lot of healthcare providers. That is too bad. It is perfectly suited for comprehensive care, and I believe it would work well across the entire healthcare spectrum. In my opinion, patients deserve to be fully satisfied with the care they pay for.

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