The Rise of Consumerism: What It Means for Emergency Medicine

consumer health care market

Recently, Dr. Yogin Patel, ApolloMD President, was selected to participate as a panelist in a webinar discussing “The Rise of Consumerism: What It Means for Emergency Medicine.” The webinar was hosted by Emergency Department Practice Management Association (EDPMA) and sponsored by athenahealth.

Dr. Patel shared his observations in response to questions evaluating the consumer mindset as it influences the health care marketplace. In that context, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed forth various changes that may have longer-term implications. Dr. Patel finds the opportunities opening up to be an inspiration for growth.

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Here are a few highlights from the presentation:

“I look at this [consumerism] as a much longer macrotrend that accelerated in the last year. Patients are very much embracing health care as a consumer good to be measured and benchmarked. People are looking for ultra-convenience, they’re looking for expeditious care, they’re looking for transparent and often rock-bottom pricing, and of course they’re looking for no mistakes.

When I started in emergency medicine about 13 years ago, I remember the quote: ‘Good. Fast. Nice.’ That was what made a good emergency physician—Good. Fast. Nice. That can sound harsh to those of us who practice at the bedside, but I think the sooner we embrace that reality, the better we’ll be able to meet patients where they are.

We’ve all talked about the last year as really being the ‘black swan event’ of health care. With COVID-19, so much has changed about the way people approach and access health care. Telemedicine is a great example. During the peak of the pandemic, there was a five-fold increase in adoption. Now as we enter a post-pandemic phase, every hospital partner that I know is trying to figure out the most efficient method to serve patients digitally while also meeting all their needs and routing them back to our brick-and-mortar institutions for more definitive care.

Without the pandemic, it’s uncertain how long it would have taken for patients and consumers to overcome the inertia of the traditional doctor-patient relationship. If you look at the comfort level with telemedicine, comfort level of seeing a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, comfort level with a touchless encounter and alternative sites of care, comfort level with paramedics treating patients in the field—all of these things are traditional pillars in health care that are changing.

Coming out of this pandemic, what an incredible time to be in health care! We are seeing all of these disparate, siloed services that need integration; we’re seeing patients that need education on a whole new way to interact with health care. I think the need to integrate those services and to broaden our vision of care beyond the four walls of the hospital really creates some interesting opportunities.

So, when we think about applying telemedicine both in the pre-hospital setting with paramedics and ET3 programs, or in the post-hospital setting after discharge we’re absolutely putting a strategic road map together that weaves these things together … all in the service of improving the quality of care that you provide. I think about this, and I’m extremely hopeful.”

For more details from the webinar, click here.

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