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Consumers may get more say in their healthcare decisions

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Patient-centric healthcare solutions offer a glimpse of what health reform eventually could look like by the time it is fully implemented. It’ll be a system where consumers are more in control of managing the levers that determine cost.

(THE NEWS: PricewaterhouseCoopers: Government, health leaders seek customer-centric healthcare solutions. For the full story, click here)

“Pilot programs for the creation of accountable care organizations and collaborative care networks, new reimbursement models and increased funding for community and primary care services are keys to improving outcomes and reducing health costs,” PricewaterhouseCooper stated in its release. “These seeds, planted in the new law, mark a turning point for healthcare delivery in the U.S. and support the conclusions … that over the next five years, [this] trend will lead to significant health industry business model changes, more regulatory reforms focused on efficiency and effectiveness, greater investments in prevention and a growing role for information technology to enable information-sharing and provide interactive, customized care in a virtual world.”

So what does that mean?

It means this trend will lead to increased and reimbursed participation of pharmacies and retail clinics because these are the healthcare professionals who are most convenient and accessible who already are filling the role as “health coach” for many of their patients. And why build “collaborative care networks” from the ground up when one already exists?

This trend will lead to more regulatory reforms focused on funneling (Medicare/Medicaid) patients to those front-line healthcare providers (pharmacists/clinicians) who are most efficient and most effective.

This trend will lead to greater investments in prevention, such as incentivizing the use of over-the-counter medicines when appropriate by making those purchases altogether tax deductible, or maybe folding dietary supplements bearing qualified health claims into the slew of OTCs that already can be purchased through flexible spending accounts to encourage healthier diets.

This trend will lead to the growing role information technology will play, such as utilizing diagnostic devices that automatically upload health data to a secure server to be accessed by the patient and his or her personal healthcare team, such as general practitioners or caregivers.

And this trend well lead to establishing information technology such as a secure electronic medical record that can capture a person’s complete health history no matter which provider he or she patronizes.

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