Tough Questions About Patient Experience

Blog post by Colin Hung

This week, I’ll be attending the 2019 Patient Experience Summit (Empathy + Innovation) being held in Cleveland. Watch the #PESummit hashtag for live-tweets from myself, Grace Cordovano and many others.

Last year, ahead of this same conference, we discussed whether or not we had reached “Peak Patient Experience” – and the general consensus from the community was that we hadn’t. It was a fun discussion inspired by the topics being covered at the Summit.

Ahead of this year’s conference, Dr. Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic, challenged me to think critically about patient experience – specifically about the wave of consumerism engulfing healthcare.

“There’s been a lot of talk about patients-as-consumers. We’ve debated countless times whether the comparison is valid or not. I’m more interested in exploring the questions that aren’t being asked publicly about consumerism. That would make for an interesting discussion.”

As an example, Dr. Boissy brought up the spectre of full price transparency.

In a perfect consumer market, the prices are completely known and transparent. Consumers can easily compare costs from different vendors and choose between them based on their own internal value equations (price vs convenience vs quality). There is no doubt that healthcare is still very far away from a perfect consumer market, BUT the interesting question posed by Dr. Boissy is “Would MORE people forgo care if they knew the cost of preventative treatment?” In other words, would price transparency inadvertently make things worse for the healthcare system with more people opting out of preventative care.

I’m not sure too many people would do that…especially if the consequences of not getting care were made apparent to each person (which I hope would be the case in a consumer-friendly healthcare market). However, I could see the number of people forgoing routine care would increase – much like how some people forgo auto maintenance if their care is “running fine”.

This week on HCLDR I thought we would explore some tough questions about the future of healthcare when we arrive in a more consumer-friendly healthcare system. Would we regret a rush to commoditized healthcare? Do we really want a healthcare system more focus on ratings than on outcomes? Would we be comfortable with a provider who offers care as a loss-leader?

Join the next weekly HCLDR tweetchat on Tuesday May 14th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) when we will be discussing the following tough questions about patient experience and healthcare consumerism:

  • T1 Would you be comfortable with an organization that provides low-cost care as a loss-leader and makes up the margin selling you medications, devices & other items on the back end?
  • T2 When routine care becomes commoditized and prices known, one of the only differentiators is level of service (vs outcomes for example). Is this where the emphasis should be?
  • T3 A lot of effort is being expended to turn patients into fans and “loyal customers”. Do you really want to have an emotional connection with a healthcare organization?
  • T4 Some of the best patient experiences are provided in places like Singapore. Would geography matter to you as a healthcare consumer? Would you consider going overseas?


Carter, Shawn. “Over half of Americans delay or don’t get health care because they can’t afford it—these 3 treatments get put off most”, CNBC, 29 November 2018,, accessed 13 May 2019

Weaver, Kathryn E et al. “Forgoing medical care because of cost: assessing disparities in healthcare access among cancer survivors living in the United States.” Cancer,15 July 2010,, accessed 13 May 2019

Eisneberg, Richard. “Boomers And Gen Xers Skipping Health Care Due To Cost”, Forbes, 27 March 2018,, accessed 13 May 2019

Frieden, Joyce. “A Big Medical Tourism Boom? Actually, Not So Much”, MedPage Today, 2 May 2018,, accessed 13 May 2019

Jain, Sachin H. “The Type of Consumerism Healthcare Really Needs”, Forbes, 17 April 2018,, accessed 13 May 2019

Image Credit

Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash

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