Monday, January 16, 2012

Consumerism in Healthcare: Shopping for Answers.

The Daily Muse

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(click title for full article)

Many hospitals and health institutions have been treating patients as "consumers."  This mindset seems to help institutions provide better customer service and increase the prominence of patient's rights, but as the article points out, it may be causing some breakdowns in efficient treatment. 

Many music therapists work in institutions or facilities where patients are talked about as consumers.  Since MTs are part of treatment teams, we should be aware of the pitfalls of pretending that patients are like regular consumers in a retail setting.  

The authors of the article accurately point out that patients are not like regular consumers.  They usually don't choose to "shop" at a hospital or other health facility.  They are usually obtaining treatment for a problem or situation that is not of their choosing.  

Many patients and families are also under stress and emotional duress.  Although some people (myself included!) might consider shopping to be stressful, these people can probably choose to stop shopping or take a break to reduce their stress!  The article makes a good point that you cannot expect people under stress to make clear, quick and correct decisions about their health by putting them independently in the driver's seat as a consumer.

I think that this topic is something to be considered by MTs.  Can we make the decision-making process easier for patients?  What kind of road-map can we provide patients to help guide them through treatment?         

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