Healthcare consumerism refers to the recent movement in the United States toward patients taking a more significant part in choosing their healthcare. With more options available and individuals taking the time to better educate themselves, Ambulatory Surgery Centers feel the impact. As patients become more involved in seeking cost-effective, safe, and efficient methods of treating medical conditions, ASCs have to find ways to ensure patients choose their facility. New ASCs open every year, and the competition for patients is fierce.
The Covid Factor
The Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call to individuals, physicians, and hospitals. Hospitals and ASCs realized that traditional safety and health protocols were no longer sufficient in the face of a new virus. Patients realized they had to self-advocate to make sure that elective procedures and routine testing were handled appropriately by every member of their healthcare team. Shopping around became normal as some individuals realized they were uncomfortable with the level of precautions being taken in some instances.
The pandemic also impacted scheduling. Some ASCs had to close while others remained open with stringent guidelines. As a result, many patients realized for the first time that they had options. If one facility was closed, they didn’t have to wait until it opened. They could simply schedule their procedure elsewhere. It shook up the complacency of many patients who had previously thought that, since they’d always gone to the same ASC for procedures, it was their only choice.
The Time Factor
Elective surgery, even minimally invasive procedures, used to be done at hospitals. With more ASCs opening every year, consumers are increasingly opting for ASCs because they like the idea of “getting in and getting out.” Outpatient surgeries have spiked in popularity with consumers who value their time and don’t want to be restricted in a hospital unnecessarily. Most procedures done at an ASC have shorter recovery times at home than more traditional procedures done in a hospital setting.
The Money Factor
Hospitals are more expensive than ASCs, and patients appreciate the cost savings. When you have to take time off work, have a procedure, then recover, money becomes a critical part of patient consumer decisions. The lower overhead of an Ambulatory Surgery Center appeals especially to young patients just starting out and older patients who may be on a limited income.
How Your ASC Should Address Healthcare Consumerism
Today's patients are savvy shoppers. They take the time to compare various doctors, facilities, and even surgical options. They do their homework and consider all the alternatives. In response, your ASC should show respect to current and potential patients by addressing their concerns and making it clear your ASC has something unique to offer that makes it worth their time and money.
Making an informed decision requires having all the facts. Use online tools to educate patients about their procedures and your ASC. The more confident patients are with their understanding of a procedure and what to expect, the more likely they are to choose your facility.
Comparison shopping for the best price is an integral part of healthcare consumerism. Cost transparency is essential. Ensure all costs are clearly outlined, so potential patients know what to expect and see the savings of using your ASC versus a hospital. If you are one of several available ASCs, offer incentives that make your facility appealing. These incentives might include a discount for early payment or payment plans. Making it easier to pay for procedures by offering online payments can also help.
Today's healthcare consumers check online reviews, research their procedures online, and talk to other patients. Because they are shopping for quality care, your ASC has to offer a personalized approach that will make each patient feel less like a number. Thoughtful touches like bright, attractive waiting rooms, an available staff member to answer questions, and patient tracking boards can all contribute to patients feeling cared for and confident in your ASC’s ability to give them the personalized care they seek.
Healthcare consumerism is one of the driving forces in healthcare reform and growth. Make sure your ASC meets and exceeds the demands of today’s patients by offering quality, value, and personal care to keep you ahead of the curve.
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