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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Caution About Consumer-Driven Health Care

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

As our society debates various approaches to healthcare reform, it’s important that personal responsibility becomes a key element. But let’s not confuse personal responsibility with consumer-driven health care.

We must encourage people to take personal responsibility for maintaining and improving their health. But that does not mean leaving them on their own to shop for insurance and physicians the same way they shop for a TV or a car.

Competition among providers and suppliers has its proper place in the healthcare market. It spurs competitors to continuous improvement and innovation — improving quality and customer satisfaction. But if taken too far, consumer-driven healthcare could erode the patient-physician-hospital relationship.

Commercial pressures of a completely market-oriented, consumer-driven approach could produce a system in which market pressures outweigh core principles of the patient-physician relationship.

We must acknowledge that there is an important market-driven, business side to the delivery of healthcare. But we must not allow that to become the most important influence on how we as a society determine how to deliver health care.

That’s why it is vital that all stakeholders — consumers, business and community leaders, physicians, insurance companies, and hospitals ? have a seat at the policymaking table.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based family of hospitals, Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and Texas Health Arlington Memorial, I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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