In the blogosphere there’s been a lot of talk about whether patients should be considered consumers/customers. There have been good arguments on both sides. In a recent DCPatient article titled, “Consumers v Patients,” the author describes the distinct differences between consumers and patients in the healthcare industry. I encourage you to check out the article here: http://www.dcpatient.us/2010/11/consumers-v-patients/.
The consumers are described as the members of the general public who may be healthy and have little communication with the medical system. Acute patients, on the other hand, have an illness or injury that forces them to interact with the healthcare system. “They are not electively consuming goods or resources, but trying to secure the more effective treatment with the least amount of pain, time, and cost (if there is a choice or information). “ Patient Warriors (often E-patients) are facing chronic diseases and “may spend hundreds or thousands of hours reading, attending medical conferences, and questioning other patients and physicians.”
It is important that as healthcare professionals we correctly discern the differences between these population segments. We cannot assume that all stakeholders are equally engaged. However, I would argue that patients are consumers – but consumers with a unique perspective and further along the engagement continuum. I recommend you read a post on the Wego Health blog by Alicia Staley titled “Are Patients Customers?” In her post, she gives links to a number of articles and blog posts that take on this issue. http://tinyurl.com/288vg9y. This is a really rich discussion.
For more, I encourage you to read the article in DCPatient: http://www.dcpatient.us/2010/11/consumers-v-patients/.
Post by Dan Dunlop with Stephanie Cohen, UNC-Chapel Hill Student and Jennings Intern