The New Wave of Healthcare Consumerism

 

As consumers, we’re used to shopping around for the best price. But there’s one marketplace where a frustrating lack of transparency in pricing still exists — healthcare. In this episode of the Healthcare Podcast, host Shelby Skrhak sat down with Ryan Coplon, CEO of HealthWallet to discuss how disruption in the healthcare industry is driving a new wave of consumerism in the marketplace.

Often insurance companies treat their provider-negotiated pricing as proprietary information, which makes it difficult for patients to be responsible, cost-conscious consumers. Austin-based HealthWallet is a health concierge app that helps consumers take a more active role in healthcare decision making with costs and options.

Telehealth and virtual healthcare have played a big part in healthcare consumerism, making care more accessible and convenient for many, Coplon explained. It’s popping up in national pharmacy chain websites, insurance companies’ member websites, and patient portals.

But as with any disruptive technology, telehealth has faced obstacles with widespread adoption. “As compared to most technological disruption capabilities, telehealth has lagged in terms of global utilization,” Coplon said. A lot of that stems from unfamiliarity with how a virtual doctor visit works.

That’s why some companies are covering 100 percent the cost of these telehealth visits so that patients can experience it without a co-pay, Coplon explained. It’s just one-way companies are affecting the healthcare supply chain.

“Instead of buying from an insurance company that says, ‘Here’s where you buy drugs and what they cost,’” Coplon said. “Companies are skipping that and contracting directly with local pharmacies. Now, if you cut the [middle man] out and contract directly between the local pharmacies and employer groups, they both come out net better by a mile.”

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