Patient as consumer: What does it mean for healthcare?

Patient empowerment can be a double-edged sword. From hospitals and insurance companies to doctors and patients themselves, much of the medical system increasingly treats patients as “customers” or “consumers,” terms that some people love and others hate. If patients are customers, does that mean “the customer is king” or does it mean “buyer beware” — or both?

If patients retain their traditional role, does that mean doctors are in charge? Are both in charge somehow? How is “power” shared among all stakeholders and how should it be shared?

The changing role of the patient was voted the number one Great Challenge in health and medicine by the TEDMED community in 2011, one of 20 complex issues with broad impact that needs cross-disciplinary understanding and discussion to manage.  Join the online interactive Challenges community now to share your thoughts on patient engagement and to ask questions of thought leaders in the field.