Choice Matters — A look at healthcare in the consumer age

August 29, 2018

In his new book, co–authored with two experts examining the spectrum of change in the delivery of healthcare, John A. Quelch, Dean of the University of Miami Business School, has tackled a fluid subject impacted by a quickly changing world heavily influenced by consumer–driven decisions.

Choice Matters: How Healthcare Consumers Make Decisions (and Why Clinicians and Managers Should Care), is the healthcare sector’s guide to understanding and delivering the brand of consumer-centered care that is an imperative for the Zocdoc age. The authors combine their expertise in business, medicine and public policy to help clinicians and managers better understand the difference between healthcare and other consumer-driven markets, how consumers make decisions about healthcare, and the important distinction between patients and consumers.

Quelch, who also serves as Vice Provost for Executive Education at UM, is the former Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He held a joint appointment as professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He also served as Dean of the London Business School.

Quelch is an expert in the business of healthcare and its impact on people, companies and communities.

Has the shift in healthcare coverage and planning put the consumer in the driver’s seat?

Quelch: If the consumer is in the driver’s seat, she certainly does not have full control of the vehicle. Consumers are having to cover a higher percentage of their healthcare costs, so they are taking a keener interest in healthcare decisions, However, comparative information about provider quality and pricing is spotty and far from user-friendly.

Are patients making decisions more from a consumer focus (cost), or healthcare outcome?

Quelch: Of course, consumers want the best outcomes. But some may choose to trade off a good enough outcome or slower, less personalized service for a lower price. Providers and insurers have to understand different consumer segments that respond differently when facing the same healthcare problem.

Has the healthcare industry shifted its strategy on marketing due to this consumer focus? And who is the winner?

Quelch: With few exceptions, consumers are the best judge of what’s best for them. Some doctors think giving their patients treatment choices wastes their time. But choice empowers consumers, invests them in decisions and results in greater adherence to treatment regimens and medications, resulting in better healthcare outcomes.

Choice Matters: How Healthcare Consumers Make Decisions (and Why Clinicians and Managers Should Care), is co-authored by Quelch; Gordon Moore, professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Emily Boudreau, doctoral candidate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

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