Trust. Who do you trust? Who do you trust to take care of you and your family?
The disruptive technology profiled in this post is: Consumer reports and ratings.
When we go to purchase a consumer good, most people do some research before making a purchase. Today, much of this research gets done online via the Internet by reading reviews on popular sites like epinions.com, Consumer Reports, and a host of others. These sites can provide feedback from individual users as well as testing information.
Why is it in health care there is no such equivalent? For something as important as our own personal health and for an industry that consumes roughly 10% of the GDP in Canada and the United States, why is there no information regarding satisfaction, reliability, quality, and cost? In Ontario, Canada I know that there is the Hospital Report that tries to assess the quality of hospitals in Ontario. Unfortunately, patients and the public do not have access to the detail information regarding performance of hospitals.
In the near future, I suspect that there will be one or two websites that will emerge that provides ratings, information, and “reviews” on the health care experience. There are State sponsored reports in the United States examining the “hard data” in terms of quality of cardiac care (the New York area I believe). It will only take one or two people to get it started, but I suspect that there is a great demand for this type of information. From what I’ve seen, people have this tendency to share about their experiences with the health system – going into surprising detail about the type of care they received, from who they received it, and what they thought about it. The Internet has the potential to concentrate all of these experiences on a website that allows patients to read about and share experiences at hospital A, physician B, or health service C.
In my opinion, once a critical mass of “reviews” and “patient reports” are available to read, the level of quality and competition in health care will increase dramatically. No longer will physicians be able to hide behind the veil of professionalism, nor will hospitals be able to limit information. Already, a hospital in the United States is posting patient feedback on their website in the form of “blogs” to help potential patients with their upcoming stay (read the article here). Why limit it to actual care? Why can’t users of eHealth systems and technologies post their own information and results of using a vendor’s product on a “health care reports” site?
Online reports of the experiences that patients have with physicians, hospitals, and health services are likely to affect the direction of health care and eHealth. I’ve focussed primarily on the patient side, but physicians and nurses can use this type of technology to share information about work environment, responsiveness of vendors, and a whole host of information. In many ways, consumer/patient reports can act as a clearing house to attract people, much like how Richard Florida writes about creative people being attracted to certain places because of “word of mouth” reputations and experiences.