Dr Karen van Caulil on the Role of Consumer Education in Healthcare

In order for consumers to receive the best care for the best cost, it is important for them to be educated about what healthcare services they purchase, said Karen van Caulil, PhD, president and CEO of the Florida Health Care Coalition.

In order for consumers to receive the best care for the best cost, it is important for them to be educated about what healthcare services they purchase, said Karen van Caulil, PhD, president and CEO of the Florida Health Care Coalition.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What role does consumer education play when improving the quality and value of healthcare services?

It’s a really important role and when a person is buying anything that’s expensive or important they need to be able to have good information to select the highest quality product or service with the most reasonable cost. So in order to do that you need to have really good information and we aren’t there in healthcare. It’s really, really hard for consumers to be able to make good decisions about the best value in healthcare. We work with providers all the time and we’re trying to move them from a fee-for-service reimbursement to outcomes-based and they tell us all the time that they’re very concerned about that because the patients’ behavior, their decision-making, their adherence to the medical plan of care is critically important to the outcome. And they feel like it’s out of their hands; when we come to them to try to work on this really important shift in healthcare we recognize, as employers, we play a role in that. We need to educate our employees and their family members so that they’re engaged, that they’re empowered, that they’re educated, but also that they’re enabled to make good decisions. Unfortunately it’s been a lot of talk about consumer-centered and consumer education and not a lot of really good action on getting the right information in the hands of consumers.