Date of Publication:

March 1, 2017

From patient-centered care to consumer-directed health plans, changes in the delivery, financing, and organization of healthcare and health coverage are increasingly touted as consumer- or patient-centered.  But does today’s system accurately reflect consumers’ true needs and preferences?  Have consumers and patients been actively engaged in the development, design, and implementation of these insurance products and delivery system reforms?  How can we elevate and validate the voice of the consumer while separating out efforts intended to increase the market share, or bottom lines, of financially vested interests?

As this backgrounder shows, across the continuum of consumers healthcare engagement, we rarely cater to what consumers really want and need.  To truly claim the mantle of consumer-centric, stakeholders and interested parties must meet consumers where they are, realize the limitations and barriers many consumers face, and actively work to reduce the consumer’s burden of interacting with the health system.   

This paper introduces an infographic for thinking about the consumer’s healthcare engagement points, provides evidence of consumers’ preferences and needs for each touch point in the life-cycle, shows how our system too often fails to address consumer preferences and needs, outlines how these failings could be addressed, and encourages a discussion of how to elevate, support, validate and authenticate the consumer's voice.

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