One of the most notable transformations in the current healthcare landscape revolves around patients and their growing involvement in their own care. Twenty years ago, a patient walking into a doctor’s office for treatment might have accepted the proposed care plan without question or complaint—trusting completely in their physician’s knowledge and expertise.
Today, the voice of the patient consumer grows louder as patients become increasingly fierce advocates in their own care delivery. This shifting doctor-patient dynamic says nothing about physician qualifications or capabilities. Instead, it speaks to the rise of the “predictive patient.”
Defining the predictive patient
With the advent of at-home genetic testing, patients are able to easily receive an assessment of their health risks and carrier status for certain diseases. In early 2019, MIT Technology Review reported that more than 26 million consumers had added their DNA to at least one of the four major consumer genetics companies.
Armed with access to limitless information on the cause of current symptoms or the explanation for certain short-term ailments—the predictive patient profile embraces tools like these is one at-home testing kits and uses them to facilitate conversations with their physicians.
Providing patients with this knowledge has the potential to decrease care costs. In some situations, at-risk patients might be able to seek early intervention or adopt prevention strategies—potentially mitigating the excess care costs that could arise without early action.
However, there are risks associated with this method as well. In our recent webinar 8 Top-of-Mind Trends for Physician and Hospital Buyers In 2020, Definitive Healthcare CEO Jason Krantz forecasts what this predictability means for the course of healthcare.
“Accuracy (of at-home genetic testing results) is a real issue,” Krantz said. “First of all, the tests do not cover every potential genetic mutation, which can give a sense of false security. And on the other hand, there’s many false positives—people are starting to worry more and more about things that may never occur. So there’s a lot of questions to be raised here.”
Consumers and healthcare providers alike need to be aware of the differences between diagnostic and consumer-initiated genetic tests, as well as limitations and risks of consumer-initiated genetic testing. These include privacy risks, inaccuracies, and incompleteness of testing.
Moving to patient-centered care
Healthcare has evolved from the traditional “doctor knows best” scenario, and the path is paved for a patient-centered care (PCC) approach. Traditional healthcare management strategies focused on illness, interventions, and pharmacology, with limited strategies on how to optimize health.
PCC is the practice of caring for patients (and their families) in ways that are meaningful and valuable to the individual patient. It includes listening to, informing, and involving patients in their care. The key for providers to be successful in this model is to use a data-driven approach. Here are two ways providers can use data to prepare for patient-based care:
1. Measuring patient experiences
This is the first and most crucial step in moving toward patient-centered practice. Studies have shown that healthcare providers and patients often have very different interpretations of what happened during a particular visit.
Making sure patients understand care choices, demonstrating empathy, and thoroughly responding to questions have proven to be key steps in optimizing care delivery for providers. There are numerous opportunities for measuring and quantifying the patient experience during a visit. The more information that is gathered and analyzed, the closer healthcare steps to improving the quality of care itself.
2. Tracking patient outcomes
It’s very clear that the healthcare industry has accepted the coexistence and mutual benefits of PCC and evidence-based practices. This is extremely important because patient-centered care doesn’t mean abandoning evidence.
Instead, a focus on patient outcomes and an understanding of the existing evidence-based care models allows organizations to deliver more personalized treatment plans. This will also allow doctors to draw up treatment plans based on information they have obtained about the patient to increase the likelihood of patient adherence to physician guidance. The intersection of PCC and evidence-based practice is one of the many exciting possibilities of these advances.
As consumerism continues to drive healthcare trends, paid-for concierge medicine has gained widespread traction among patients. Interested in learning more about the pros and cons of the concierge model? Check out our blog post, What is Concierge Medicine? to learn more.