By making simple decisions to buy or not buy, consumers have changed entire industries — banking, travel, cell phones. A little pressure from consumers typically produces a lot of innovation that shifts products, competition, prices, quality, choices, and ultimately value. The problem with healthcare is that it has been built around providers, insurers, the government, employers — and not around consumers. We’ve ended up with spiraling costs and few consumer choices, primarily because many of the regulations and mindsets governing health care have inhibited the kind of broad-scale consumer innovation that’s happened in other industries.
Now, while the U.S. government is undertaking one of the biggest reform efforts in our history, the debate seems to be overlooking the essential element of consumers.
Healthcare is not going to be reformed by simply revising the current system, which is centered on providers. Instead, we need to concentrate on re-engineering healthcare around the consumer, building innovative approaches that can help consumers take more control of their ongoing care. After all, the ultimate success of healthcare reform will depend on consumers changing their behaviors and interactions with the healthcare system as much as it will on the legislation under consideration in Washington, DC.
But, alas (sigh), it is in the hands of politicians, who are guided by special interests, and not their constituents BEST interests.