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e-Patients Increasing; Going Online for Health Care Price-Shopping

Patients are online more than ever.  They go online before and after their doctor visit and will come into the office armed with information and questions culled from any number of online resources.  At the e-Patient Connections conference in Philadelphia, Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet & American Life Project presented findings that physicians should be prepared for:  One in three patients read health blogs; one in four patients living with chronic conditions are on social networks; 60% of e-patients (or 42% of all adults) say they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet.

Not only are patients going online for information regarding conditions and diseases, they are also learning more about the business side of medicine and price-shopping.  The Wall Street Journal today reports on a segment of such websites designed to give patients a rough idea of typical costs in their area, which can help them choose doctors and hospitals, budget for medical costs and sort out disputed bills.  The article claims that because hospitals don’t advertise their costs, and insurers don’t advertise their negotiated reimbursements to docs, patients are becoming more aware of web services that provide general costs for procedures.  While they are on the front lines with, often, little control of health care costs, physicians should be prepared to field such questions from patients.

Click here for The Wall Street Journal’s listing of 23 websites for patients to “figure out health care prices.”



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