Eighty percent of consumers think the "consumerization" of health care — people taking a greater and more active role in their own health care — is positive for Americans, a Wolters Kluwer Health survey finds.

Wolters Kluwer Health, health care, consumerization of health care, health care decisions, quality of care, Linda Peitzman, health care providers, Rite Aid, Ken Martindale, wellness empowerment, Walgreens, CVS, drug chains

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Poll: People want more control over health care

December 12th, 2012

PHILADELPHIA – Eighty percent of consumers think the "consumerization" of health care — people taking a greater and more active role in their own health care — is positive for Americans, a Wolters Kluwer Health survey finds.

The health care information firm said Wednesday that the vast majority of Americans also believe it's necessary to have more control over their health care. Of the 1,000 U.S. adults polled in a phone survey by Ipsos, 86% said they must be more proactive in managing their own health care in order to ensure better quality of care.

Wolters Kluwer Health's research also shows that most consumers think they're ready to exercise more control in managing their health care. Of those surveyed, 76% reported that they have the information and tools to take a more proactive role in health care decisions, ranging from selecting health care providers to researching treatment options. Still, only 19% said they have their own electronic personal health record (PHR).

The idea of the "patient experience" is also gaining traction with many Americans, according to Wolters Kluwer Health. Thirty percent of those polled want their patient experience to be the same as any other customer experience — such as shopping, hotel and travel experiences — complete with choices and control.

When it comes to choices about doctors, assuming that experience levels and care reputations are similar, consumers rank the following as the top factors influencing their decision: costs of visits and procedures (20%); technologically advanced offices, including the ability to communicate via e-mail with doctors and nurses and schedule appointments online (19%); location of practice/office (19%); and friendliness of staff (14%)

Other key findings from the survey included the following:

• Women (85%) are more likely than men (74%) to believe the "consumerization" of health care is positive.

• More women (81%) than men (72%) think they have the information and tools to make their own health care decisions.

• 60% of consumers ages 35 to 54 strongly agree that they need to be more proactive about their care, compared with 56% of those ages 55 and older and 47% of younger adults.

• More women (59%) than men (50%) strongly agree that they need to take a more proactive role in managing their care to ensure better quality of care.

"With greater responsibility placed on patients to take a role in their own care, it's essential that consumers have access to evidence-based tools and resources to make informed decisions about their care in partnership with their health care providers," stated Linda Peitzman, chief medical officer at Wolters Kluwer Health. "Access to research-based medical information not only can positively impact quality of care, but it also can lead to improved doctor-patient communication and relationships."

The trend of people seeking more control over their own health care hasn't gone unnoticed by drug chains.

In recent years Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, among other chain drug retailers, have steadily expanded their offerings beyond conventional pharmacy services and into primary health care, including immunizations, health screenings and tests, and clinical services. For consumers, these retailers offer the traditional convenience of the drug store format: lots of locations, proximity to neighborhoods, extended hours and competitive pricing.

All three of those chains also have rolled out updated store formats with enhanced pharmacy layouts and expanded selections of health, beauty and consumable products focused on health and wellness. In addition, they've launched websites and mobile apps with an array of pharmacy, health information and shopping functions.

Earlier this year, Rite Aid chief operating officer Ken Martindale discussed the chain's focus on "wellness empowerment" as a linchpin of its new "wellness store" format and wellness+ customer loyalty program.

"The whole positioning revolves around the fact that today's consumers are more educated about their health and wellness and want to take a more active role — and need to take a more active role," Martindale said during a tour of a wellness store in Mechanics­burg, Pa.