Lisa Eramo

Why Patient Centricity Matters in Health Care Today

Patient centricity is all about putting patients first — making them the “center” of the health care experience. In a patient-centric health care model, your employees aren’t passive participants. Instead, they’re empowered decision-makers who work collaboratively with their providers to improve their health. When they’re in the driver’s seat, your employees will be smarter about their health care, seeking the convenience, digital tools and expanded coverage that make comparing prices and finding the best value easier.

All this may sound great for your employees, but it can benefit your business, too. When you embrace plans with patient-centric models, you demonstrate your commitment to your employee’s physical and financial well-being. The right patient-centric health plan not only stands to keep your employees healthy and productive — it can also become an asset in attracting and retaining top-quality talent. Here’s what you need to know.

The Evolution of Patient Centricity

In the last five years, 65 percent of health care executives say their definition of patient-centered care has evolved, according to a recent study by Modern Healthcare. In the past, patient-centric care meant simply involving patients in care plans and treatments. In contrast, survey respondents said they now view patient centricity with a wider lens that includes improved patient satisfaction, increased access to providers, enhanced care coordination and the ability to provide patients with educational materials and resources.

These changes didn’t occur overnight. They’ve emerged in an age where other, non-health-care industries willingly — and often expeditiously — adapt their products and services to meet consumer demands. Consider the banking industry. As customers embraced mobile technology, banks created secure apps so consumers could complete transactions using their smartphones. Higher education did the same: When consumers showed a desire for remote learning opportunities and interactive materials, schools and universities responded by developing online degree programs and digital tools.

Although many industries have accepted consumerism as the status quo, the highly regulated health care industry has been slower to progress. But that’s beginning to change, and employers are in a position to further the trend toward a patient-centric health care model.

The Benefits of a Patient-Centric Model

Transitioning to a patient-centric model of care forces providers and payers to reassess the quality of their interactions with consumers. Doing so promotes improved outcomes and cost reduction — two goals of larger value-based payment reforms in health care. When patients have positive interactions with payers, they’re more likely to remain loyal. The same is true for providers. Patients who value their interactions with providers may also be more likely to stick with treatment recommendations, adhere to medications and follow through with specialist referrals — all of which help to reduce long-term health care costs.

When looking for patient-centric plans that drive quality improvement in health care, employers should consider the following three elements.

  1. Convenience. Does the payer offer expanded customer service hours? Can employees ask questions via phone, email and live chat?
  2. A digital strategy. Does the payer offer mobile apps that let employees pay bills, find providers and estimate costs? Do plans come alongside a valuable website with a good user experience?
  3. Expanded coverage. Does the payer cover the services, drugs and technology that employees increasingly want, from telemedicine and remote monitoring to new and emerging drugs?

When employers prioritize health benefits that give their employees the reins, everyone benefits. Employees receive a stellar health care experience, and employers’ benefits become an asset for their business, solving problems with recruiting and retention before they even begin.

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