How consumers make health care decisions is complex. Consumers do not make health decisions in the same way that they make choices about objects they purchase.
For this reason and many other reasons I was surprised at the backlash that pharmaceutical companies met when they began to push for direct to consumer advertising. The outcry was that consumers would see their health care provider and demand a particular drug. Really? More than likely what happened was that the consumer would TiVo the ad (along with their favorite program) and then skip it because it was “simply advertising.”
However, in some cases the consumer had new information and actually now had something to ask their health care provider about. For example, very few knew about ED and those that experienced it were reluctant to speak about it. This is no longer the case.
As consumers we do not ask enough questions. And while some health care providers bemoaned that they had to talk to their patient about why the medicine they were asking for was the wrong one for them, other providers saw it as an opportunity to engage the consumer in their own care. Conversations with a consumer are a good and essential part of health care. This needs to be encouraged and we need to reimburse providers for this one-to-one education. And of course in a multicultural world, the conversation must be in the language that the consumer speaks.