Shifting The Healthcare Spend to Consumers: CDHP Offerings Triple in 1 Year

Here's an interesting indicator in the health-care consumerism debate (hat tip to HealthLeaders Media yet again for the link).

8.8% of surveyed employers in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette study covering WV, PA, and Ohio are offering high-deductible or 'catastrophic' coverage plans, but that's an almost 300% increase from the 2007 survey (2.5% offering CDHPs).

Even more interesting, 84% of firms surveyed by Cowden Associates "are not likely" to offer the plans or "have no interest in them."

Here's more food for thought - when the system fails to answer consumer demand according to patients' self-defined desires, we end up paying penalties like the ED overuse crisis.

When the system does not innovate, patients will create 'work-arounds,' or modified care processes that address individual supply and demand concerns.

Allow me to reach back into my English Literature schooling to illustrate the concept with metaphor (sometimes I miss the days when Shakespeare's sonnets seemed life-altering...).

Picture in your mind the stars. It's no coincidence I'm equating future healthcare innovations with the heavens rather than the purgatory which represents today's hospital consumer experience.

In the current clouded system, each consumer ends up creating an insular healthcare economy where she is at the center and pulls orbiting providers and services in at will, burning up efficiency like a supernova consumes flotsam before it becomes a black hole.

It is the invisible, heavy hand clutching fistfuls of healthcare dollars: selfish self-interest at work.

As patients, and I'd argue providers as well, MOST of the time we're each MOST interested in "this little light of mine," not the overall healthy functioning of the wider wellness universe.

And it is from this current, self-interested, fearful consumer-driven healthcare nucleosynthesis that new galaxies of disruptive innovation are being formed.

We're launching the burden of healthcare costs towards consumers already. Excuse the continuing space metaphor but I want to be sure this point is embedded.

So why aren't more companies offering innovative tech and customer service options to address increasing consumer involvement and the changing face of patient demand for performance improve

Answer: We're all still waiting with baited breath for the 'big numbers' and 'real success stories.' We won't believe it's time until we can track the shooting stars with the naked eye.

We want to see millions of consumers demanding better care and dozens of Health 2.0 firms merging, being acquired, or improving offerings to make their own 5 year anniversaries intact.

But if we hold our breath waiting for other organizations to be successful, we'll suffocate as they snap up market share. Successful innovations in consumer-directed healthcare will take a measured "just do it" approach, rather than a "wait and see who does it first and succeeds" mindset.

Also, innovative healthcare companies of the future will practice preemptive innovation, rather than waiting for the next supernova to take action.

Some firms are getting it right, no doubt about it, but the number of true success stories bringing in healthy revenues and planning for growth spurts is depressingly slim. Hopefully we'll see increasing evidence of new innovation galaxy formation at each successive Health 2.0 event.

Fellow blogger and Dutch consultant
Jacqueline Fackeldy may have the right of it when she suggests what we need isn't more consumer-directed tech; it's the injection of 'human-to-human' marketing and communications into the current stratified healthcare system.

Successful healthcare innovators will address 'supernova' consumers where they orbit.

She terms this vision "hotealthcare," and if you'd like to learn more about it, join us April 12th in Amsterdam.

I can't promise new worlds will be born at our meeting, but I can promise we'll bring combustible elements to the table. (We've got at least one professional sparring partner in attendance...)

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