Consumers have a big say in what goes on in the health care market. Today’s consumers are more informed and take more participatory roles in the health care choices for themselves and their families. They are empowered with choice, and this is attached to their preferences, which is attached to the demand in the health care market (DOJ, 2004).
According to Shaller, et al. (2003), consumer comparison of information about their choices in providers and treatments is a driving force for improvements in health care in the market. Health care providers are pushed to provide the best quality possible because they know that consumers are comparing them to the competition. Additionally, health care improvements in quality of delivery is a focus of health care reform initiatives, because consumers use the information available to them to choose health care plans, facilities, providers, and also caregivers (HHS). The demand of the consumer is the best for less, or at least the best even when, and especially, when it costs more. The concern is over quality.
Consumers can recognize quality in their care in many ways. For instance, they can use the information given to them by health care professionals, or they are empowered now with the Internet to find information on their own (Hibbard, 2004). This information keeps them informed so that they are able to make better decisions and also to know what is going on with their own health and care and that of their family members (Shaller, et al., 2003). Also, consumers can recognize quality when they see their providers are actively aware of their concerns and take initiatives to explain matters to them and give them what they need to make their decisions, rather than just dictating to them and keeping them in the dark.
DOJ. (2004). Improving Health Care: A Does of Competition. Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ftc.gov/reports/healthcare/040723healthcarerpt.pdf
HHS. (n.d.). Goal 1: Strengthen Health CareHHS Strategic Plan. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/goal1.html
Hibbard, J. H. (2004, June). New Roles for Patients and Consumers in Assuring High Quality Care. Virtual Mentor, 6(6).
Shaller, D., Sofaer, S., Findlay, S. D., Hibbard, J. H., Lansky, D., & Delbanco, S. (2003, March). Consumers And Quality-Driven Health Care: A Call To Action. Health Affairs, 22(2), 95-101.