What’s on our mind

Emily   //   July 26,2017

Meeting Patients Where They Are

The ancient saying ‘If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain’ is becoming more true, as today Yelp announced they are adding C-section rates and other quality indicators for hospitals that deliver babies in California. Rather than waiting for health care consumers (aka, “patients”) to navigate to the vast array of provider ratings sites, the content will now be on one of the most-used sites for finding physicians.

For years, organizations such as the California Health Care Foundation, Leapfrog, Healthgrades and governments have collected and hosted hospital ratings and quality information on their Web sites. Some hospitals have even posted their ratings on their own Web sites. But often the content was buried or difficult to navigate for the average consumer. It can also be argued that most consumers did not actively seek out that information, either.

At the same time, many individual providers have dismissed Yelp — at their own peril. Complaints we have heard include the belief that the people who rate on Yelp only post negative comments (not true) or have a personal gripe (sometimes, but not as often as you think). Perhaps the riskiest attitude about Yelp, or any consumer-driven ratings site, is to simply dismiss patients as “not knowing quality when they see it.” This is not only patronizing, but it’s dead wrong.

Health care is (still!) at the nascent stages of a revolution in patient empowerment. From direct-to-consumer genomics testing to hundreds of patient engagement apps and health tech tools, the expectation for a collaborative relationship with providers will drive patient choice. Patients are getting into the driver’s seat in health care, and providers should buckle up for the ride ahead.

Health care — and communications with patients — will take place not only in the sterile environment of a physician’s office, clinic or hospital. Successful providers will be those who are willing and able to meet patients where they are, through a vast array of online apps and health tech devices.

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