Consumer-driven health care is the future

Stakeholders will have to reinvent themselves to ensure that the best quality medical care is provided to patients

Vijay Ramnath Jayaraman
Published: 05, Nov 2014

Vijay Ramnath Jayaraman is a healthcare management consultant. He helps hospital leaders across U.S. and India in dealing with financial challenges. He is a Global Shaper, a group of leaders under the age of 30 charged with catalyzing positive social change in their respective communities by World Economic Forum (WEF). He was recently chosen as a 2014 Carnegie New Leader by the Carnegie Council, New York. He is also a founding member of an Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) chapter. He has degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology and Anna University. At Forbes, Vijay focuses in the areas of politics, economics, and the business of healthcare in India and U.S. The views expressed on this site are his own and do not reflect those of his employer or clients. Please feel free to contact him directly @vijayramnath


Image: Shutterstock

“Health care Consumerism” otherwise known as “Consumer-Driven Health care” is aimed at restructuring care around consumers and patients. Typically, in India’s current system, the government and employers take a “paternalistic” role via their health coverage and government-based hospitals shoulder the responsibility of providing health care, negotiating rates with pharmaceuticals, and arriving at a market rate for doctors and services. However, in a consumer-driven economy, consumers take centre-stage, dictating the modes and methods of care delivery, giving rise to a consumer-focussed marketplace.

There are a number of trends stemming from this important shift towards a focus on consumers. All health care stakeholders, including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and clinics that ride these changes, may be in a better position to stay financially sustainable where patient satisfaction can make or break chances of success.

Here are some things that will help you understand health consumerism better.

1. Consumers are biggest winners of the trend: Consumers will benefit with lower costs and better quality of service in hospitals and clinics. With the advent of technologies that can track health statuses real-time, patients can proactively manage their health and become more involved in their treatment processes. In India, such a system will be a huge shift from our current doctor-driven care and result in patients making health care decisions along with their care providers. Digital health trackers and health apps are great examples of what a consumer-driven health economy will look like.

2. Hospitals, doctors and clinics need to up their game: Hospitals, clinics, and doctors will need to prepare and face a market which is driven by customer satisfaction. In our current incentive structure, these providers get paid for the number of services they provide such as number of patient visits, number of surgeries, etc. However, in a consumer-driven marketplace, they will be paid for reducing hospital stays, improving safety and quality, and providing tools for consumers to manage their own health.

3. Health insurers need to reinvent themselves: While health insurance marketplace is naive in India, it is still one of the fastest growing segments of business. Health insurers will have to carefully reinvent themselves by appealing to consumers who are increasingly involved in the health care landscape. In the US, insurance companies provide tools and technologies that help with real-time diagnosis via Google and Apple Apps, provide cost transparency so that consumers are not shocked to see their final bills, and pay for wellness programmes which have shown to reduce cost over the long run. These are some of the trends expected in the near future.

It is important to point out that while India still needs to tackle its basic access to care issues, consumerism is inevitable. Several white papers have already pointed to a future state of health care where patients and consumers will engage with health providers and insurance companies in the same way as they are engaged in buying a product from Flipkart or Amazon. I firmly believe that such an economy will improve health care access by reducing the cost of care while improving our quality.

  • Pranit Clinicspots

    The above health care article best explains the scenario of Indian healthcare. Health care in India is on a verge of growth and expansion. Many start ups also are entering into the supreme world of health care. In India the problem is finding the correct solution for health related issues. Top healthcare facilities driving people to their doorstep also sometime misguide the people. As a medical counselor i have experienced the revolution in health care and its booming the health care sector in India.

    on Aug 31, 2015
    • Ravneet

      What you think about telemedicine in rural area? is it worth to rural population of india?

      on Feb 10, 2016
  • Divya Gupta

    The article correctly highlights the changing healthcare landscape in India. A survey claims that Indian HealthCare sector is witnessing a major shift from ‘infrastructure focusing’ to ‘productivity focusing’. This change is being brought by effective and innovative interventions to improve the existing healthcare ecosystem in order to achieve global standards. In India there are numerous medical apps available which are useful for physicians and patients equally. They provide valuable information on doctors, Labs, Chemists, hospitals etc. Patients can access, share and update their Electronic Health Record and doctors can view it after obtaining approval from the patient. These apps are of great help to doctors in decision-making, which is in-turn helping the consumers as their health is in informed hands. This new Technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry, making it more transparent, patient-centric and convenient.

    on May 14, 2015
    • Ravneet

      i agree with your comment :) could you tell me what you think is there any loop holes in these new technology which should be remove

      on Feb 10, 2016
  • Gururaj Potnis

    In any given system, a payer usually has the upper hand and receives the better part of the treatment. Except in Healthcare, more so in India. In most cases where insurance has no play, the patient is the one who pays Out-of-Pocket (OOP) for doctor consultations, medicines, diagnostic tests and hospitalizations. Yet the payer does not enjoy the experience. The patients needs to run pillar to post to get reasonable healthcare services. This has to change. One who pays has the right to ask for better service. Consumer-driven healthcare is not only the future, it is our right. We deserve better healthcare ecosystem around each of us. At Mobhe, we invert the current paradigm by keeping the consumer at the center of the healthcare eco-system and build a system around them.

    on Apr 14, 2015
  • A.Sabir Khan

    Mr.Vijay.. I agree really the upcoming market of Healthcare will be run by customer only. Here I would Like to add, In near future market will take turn drastically in another way because all the available player of health sector are focused for prevention n care in urban area while in rural area focus is cure not prevention. And of course Rural market is much bigger than urban, so in future rural customer will play big role for healthy and good speed of business.

    on Feb 3, 2015
  • Phanindhra

    Yes Consumer driven healthcare is a good concept.In these days every one carrying Health Insurance in metro towns of india every job holder provided health coverage by Companies.Yes Doctors will need to prepare and face a market to give better quality of service to satisfy customer.

    on Jan 2, 2015
  • sanjay

    Consumer driven healthcare is relatively a new concept largely driven by home healthcare players , confined to metro towns with no reimbursement model in place by Insurance companies. Technology which can be a great enabler but has yet to chip in and mostly delivered through paramedical teams. A long way to go before an appropriate model can be placed in India , however the first movers have a sure shot advantage.

    on Nov 6, 2014
  • Hari Pudipeddi

    Mr. Vijay, Is this article in the Indian context? Because in US, this is already in a good place and they are changing the way Patient Care is delivered.

    on Nov 5, 2014
    • Vijay Ramnath Jayaraman

      Hari: Yes, this article was meant to give the audience a summary of what is about to happen to India's healthcare landscape. You are correct about the U.S. A number of these trends are already apparent in U.S. Thanks for visiting us Hari!

      on Nov 5, 2014
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