Healthcare’s biggest misunderstanding: the rectangle and the square

By Jeff Margolis

People use patient and consumer interchangeably, and I believe that you're strategically doomed if you do so, because they're not the same.

I recently explored why and how the industry needs to distinguish consumers and patients with Akanksha Jayanthi from Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review

As I explained to her: Patients receive care, while consumers make choices. Engaged patients adhere to or comply with a treatment regimen given to them by healthcare professionals, while engaged consumers are accountable for their overall health status and the costs of achieving that health status. 

And she captured it immaculately: Patients are to squares as consumers are to rectangles. To illustrate, here's a quick geometry refresher. By definition, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. A square is a subset, of sorts, of the rectangle. In healthcare, the same principle can be applied to patients and consumers. A patient is also a healthcare consumer, but a consumer is not necessarily a patient.

We also discussed that current healthcare IT systems are designed for patients and have little practical usability for consumers. 

Click here to read more of our conversation.