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Survey says: My costs will go up!

BY Michael Johnsen

Costs are the biggest concern for opponents of healthcare reform. They’ve done the math — additional healthcare consumers means care that’s both more expensive and harder to come by. As many as 3-in-4 consumers who are not big fans of healthcare reform share that concern — 30% of those consumers suggested it’s their greatest concern, according to an exclusive survey of nearly 800 patients conducted by AccentHealth and DSN in late July and early August. A reduction in care quality was concern No. 2 (62%), and a lack of choice over which practitioner to see was concern No. 3 (58%). And little more than half were more concerned about the big picture — healthcare reform will make America go bust. But at least they’ll still be covered — only 22% said they were concerned their employers would stop the coverage.

To see more Patient Views, click here.

Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that will be appear in every edition of DSN magazine and the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to reder@lf.com.

What are your biggest concerns about healthcare reform?

Source: AccentHealth. To view the methodology, click here.

 

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Much mobile potential remains untapped

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — William Gibson, the science fiction author famous for being a key founder of the cyberpunk literary movement, once wrote, "The future is already here. It just hasn’t been evenly distributed yet." That’s especially true when considering the relatively slow adoption of mobile technology by retailers despite the buzz surrounding it and its enormous potential.

(THE NEWS: Retailers focusing on mobile site optimization and in-store technologies. For the full story, click here.)

Of course, retailers have been pretty good about adopting mobile technology and finding new ways to use it, such as adapting it to loyalty and marketing programs. Safeway uses Just for U to market products and services to 4.1 million shoppers, but still, 1.4 million of them are not active users, chairman and CEO Steve Burd told analysts at the Goldman Sachs 19th Annual Global Retailing Conference earlier this month. Burd called those inactive users a "huge opportunity" and said that growth in mobile technology could double the number of Just for U registrants.

And pharmacy retailers should be paying particular attention. While many chains have apps for things like prescription refills, a number of companies on the supply side have come up with apps as well: Last week, Eli Lilly announced an app for Type 1 diabetes patients using GlucaGen (glucagon [rDNA origin]) that includes information about the drug and abnormally low blood sugar, a simulated practice demonstrating how to prepare and inject the drug and tools to keep track of kit locations and alerts for expiration dates, among others. While the Lilly app is tailored for one particular product, it’s a good example of the potential to use apps for everything from patient education to disease state management to medication adherence.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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Patients responding to enriched healthcare experience of clinics, further underscoring tipping point

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — With the growth of consumer-driven care and more of the burden of managing costs falling on patients’ shoulders, there’s no doubt that patients are responding to the convenient, cost-effective health care provided by retail health clinics. Further evidence of this is the recent results of the Harris Interactive poll.

(THE NEWS: Survey: Clinics provide enriched healthcare experience, help shape patient satisfaction. For the full story, click here)

The survey shows that the convenient care model holds strong appeal for patients across several treatment categories, including flu shots, flu-like symptoms and cholesterol or blood pressure testing.

It’s important to note that the survey also found that roughly one-fourth would be likely to go to such a facility for a regular check-up regarding a chronic condition and one-third or more would be likely to go for all other tested treatments. The survey results come as the convenient care industry hits a tipping point in 2012.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Massachusetts lawmakers just passed a massive healthcare bill that brings expanded scope of services, in such areas as monitoring of chronic diseases and prevention and wellness offerings, to patients of limited-service clinics — marking not only a significant milestone for the state’s healthcare system but also for the convenient care industry at large.

Furthermore, South Carolina is now allowing retail-based health clinics to enroll as providers in Medicaid, a move that enables Medicaid patients to use clinics for wellness visits, preventive services and treatment of acute ailments.

Then in late July, the Los Angeles Times published an article stating that retail-based health clinics are likely to see an influx of patients turning to them for healthcare services as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will extend health insurance to some 30 million Americans amid an already fragile primary care network. The article stated that this will be especially true in California, as nearly 3-out-of-4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians.

California state senator Ed Hernandez, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said that California must take numerous steps to address this issue and that the state is considering legislation that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners so they can treat more patients directly with limited physician oversight, the Los Angeles Times reported.

These are just a few of the more recent developments within the convenient care industry but the point is this: Clearly, retail health clinics are an important player in today’s U.S. healthcare system and the nurse practitioners and physician assistants working within the clinics are on the front lines working each day to expand access to affordable, high-quality care.

What is your take on these recent developments and how do you envision the evolution of the convenient care industry in the coming years?

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