Consumerism – A Transformational Change in Healthcare

Consumerism - A Transformational Change in Healthcare

I recently met Frank Hone, a man who has worked in the healthcare industry for twenty years. Some of this time was spent working with pharmaceutical companies in their DTC (direct-to-consumer) marketing of prescription drugs beginning in the early 90’s and then through the period after the FDA relaxed regulations on such advertising. Frank left this field when he became disheartened with the dangers of this trend and the excessive growth of such means of marketing drugs, which overshadowed other health options. In 2005, the television networks broadcast as many as 16 hours of these commercials a day, at a cost of $1.2 billion and that cost is much greater today.

Frank’s recently published book, “Why Healthcare Matters”, HRD Press, Inc. , is a call to action for business leaders to drive the transformational change in our healthcare marketing model by focusing on demand-side solutions. Frank believes that the role of the consumer is vital to affecting this change, and that individual personal responsibility needs more emphasis. He provides a road map which promises to reverse the disturbing trend in health care delivery costs. He also outlines a 10-step tactical plan for implementation, that proactive companies can use to improve health care communications and increase the productivity of their employees, and describes the results of progressive companies that are leading the way.

Chronic disease is the culprit that accounts for more than 70% of health costs and saps the productivity, and eventually the profitability, from our economic system. Presenteeism, is one of these problems, it goes virtually unnoticed and is often accepted as normal. This is the lost productivity caused by employees on the job who suffer chronic ailments but are not sick enough to be absent from work.

This condition does not appear on any financial statement and too often doesn’t receive attention from management. Presenteeism, can be caused by asthma, allergies, migraines, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, etc. which can distract employees and limit their work output.

Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimate that U.S. companies suffer annual losses of $150 billion in at-work productivity. These same studies indicate that these losses are more costly than health care, workman’s compensation, disability, or absenteeism. Many companies are beginning to measure the cost of this problem, are educating their employees in an effort to change the health culture, and are providing tools and resources to empower them to become more essential participants in the interface with health care providers.

The American Institute of Preventive Medicine has shown that for every dollar invested in improving an employee’s health care knowledge, the employer can anticipate a return of $16. Most capital investments for businesses would not have that high a return.