Dr Patricia Salber on Consumerism in the Healthcare Industry

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA, of The Doctor Weighs In, doesn’t believe the healthcare industry will become anything like that of the retail or travel industry, as healthcare is very complicated and consumers may not always be making their own decisions, especially in cases where patients are seeking hospital treatment.

Patricia Salber, MD, MBA, of The Doctor Weighs In, doesn’t believe the healthcare industry will become anything like that of the retail or travel industry, as healthcare is very complicated and consumers may not always be making their own decisions, especially in cases where patients are seeking hospital treatment.

Transcript (slightly modified)

Will healthcare consumerization ever reach a point that the industry becomes more like the retail and travel industries?

Well I don’t think it will because healthcare is so much more complicated and has such larger consequences for individuals and their families compared to the kinds of things that you buy on Amazon, right. And people talk about transparency and how transparency will help drive consumerism, but the fact is there are some things that no matter how transparent you are in the costs, consumers aren’t going to be able to make that decision.

So an example is, I’m unconscious in the ambulance, I don’t really get to make a determination of which hospital I go to, particularly if I’ve been in a car crash and there’s a trauma center. That decision’s going to be made for me, regardless of whatever price implications there are. If I know all the costs of the drugs, and it’s a case of getting one of these expensive drugs versus getting chemotherapy, am I really going to make that decision? I’m not going to make that decision.

I think transparency helps people make decisions around the margins but not around the big ticket items that really make a difference in our lives. Even with respect to health insurance, most people don’t truly make an informed decision, a truly informed decision, on which health plan they’re going to go with.