But that may be changing – to the chagrin of the hospital community. The attitude of hospitals toward patients is palpable when one reads online postings such as Consumer Access to Hospital Data Places High Expectations on Facilities, which appears on the Becker’s Hospital Review site. That attitude should set every patient on edge.
Here is the first paragraph of the article:
We are entering the age of the informed healthcare consumer. While hospitals promote internal transparency to keep employees aware of strategic decisions and financial hurdles, government and commercial resources are expanding the breadth of information available to patients. The availability of information means that hospitals must concentrate their efforts on true improvement rather than just marketing. In the past, hospitals and other healthcare facilities could rely on a referring physician to bring a steady stream of patients, but as consumers become involved in the research process, they demand more control over where they receive their care.
Consumer patients should be offended at the notion that hospitals have heretofore not been concerned with "true improvement rather than just marketing." No one is looking so why bother focusing on improvement? Just market, market, market so paying bodies are walking through the door. Tragic and offensive – the "informed" patient is obviously the enemy.
The article then moves to a focus on the sources of information that have become available to consumers in recent years, and notes with scorn that some of them are "commercial." What’s wrong with HealthGrades and Consumer Reports providing valuable information to consumers that help them make informed decisions about their health care? The final note in the article about Consumer Reports is telling: "The inclusion of hospitals and providers on Consumer Reports indicates that the healthcare industry – long exempt from the cost and service expectations of other sectors – is now receiving equal scrutiny." When it comes to your health, is that a bad thing? Consumers are not shopping for a grill or a car, they are looking for health care for them and their loved ones.
The next quote from the article is quite telling:
The ease of access to these resources may prove frightening for under-performing hospitals.
It should be. But the next sentence truly highlights the attitude facilities have for those who may walk though their doors:
If consumers are expected to slog through pages of dense documents to uncover outcomes information, hospitals can assume the number of knowledgeable patients will stay small.
Offensive. We all have an obligation to make sure we are informed medical consumers and that we hold all medical providers accountable for the care they provide. But here is the kicker:
To remain competitive, hospitals must prepare for (sic) coming era of the savvy healthcare consumer.
Yes they must.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.