Why is patient engagement so important?

If you were a kid in the 1970’s, you might remember a fast-food campaign that focused on a catchy tune offering the option to “hold the pickle and have it your way.” Well, the food industry has come a long way since then. Patients engagement has been well established as a given feature of the customer experience, so today we can walk into pretty much any food joint and order it any way we like it.

Similarly, in the healthcare industry back in the 1990’s, patients were encouraged to exercise their choice and consider an FDA-approved and clinically equivalent “generic” drug over a “brand” drug, since the former offered the same health benefits at considerably reduced prices. In response, we saw a paradigm shift in the marketing strategies of the drug companies, who used full-page drug ads to trumpet the wonders of their new or established brands. These ads educated and empowered patients to go to their doctor appointment with the drug ad in hand, encouraging them to plead that the brand was what they really needed to treat their illness. And a lot of us in fact did that.

Yet today, for some reason, when it comes to ordering a test or a procedure that has been prescribed, many of us still have the mindset that we don’t have much of a say in the kind of care we receive. Or, we simply don’t know that we indeed have a choice. Well, the protocols of the healthcare industry are indeed breaking new ground and in fact we do have important options available. For example, did you know that patients receiving radiology healthcare services have the option to choose diagnostic imaging procedures at the most cost-effective and geographically convenient facilities? Yes, it’s true. When your ordering physician requests high- tech radiology services, some health plan programs will proactively contact you to inform you that another conveniently located participating facility can provide you the same-quality services, and at lower costs.

As a patient and a consumer, you should always consider the various ways to learn how you can get the right-quality healthcare at the right cost — and maybe even at fewer of your HSA dollars. In other words, when it comes to your health, know your options and be well-informed prior to making those important healthcare product choices. You can feel proud for having done your part to reign in the escalating costs of the U.S. healthcare system, and treat yourself to one of those burgers —prepared just the way you like it.

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