It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. Lately I’ve written a lot here about e-patients taking an active role at a new level in healthcare,not just engaging in their care,but actually defining what it should be.
Well,wouldn’t you know it,life has provided me with a case study –myself.
Last week I learned I have a basal cell carcinoma,the least threatening kind of skin cancer. On my personal site I wrote about it,and said my approach would include …
- Connect with a patient community (skin cancer patients),if I can find one…. [Update: I've already had people submit four communities there]
- Learn what I can about the disease: what is basal-cell carcinoma,anyway? …
- Assess my treatment options. … what are my options for different providers?
- I have $ 10,000 deductible health insurance,so this will come out of my own pocket,and you can bet I’ll be asking around:“Hey doc! What’s my cost going to be? What-all will I be billed for,line by line? And what’s your outcomes data? Thanks! ”
- And yes,I will negotiate – like many Americans today,I pretty much have to. “Can you do any better on the price?” I won’t choose based on the cheapest bid (that can be suicidal),but price will definitely be a factor.
- “Bidders,” note:I’m willing to travel if I find a great clinic at a great price. If I can save $ 3,000 with $ 1,000 of travel costs,you bet I will! This is the glory of consumer mobility:as we fall out of the insurance system,we can go “out of network” as much as we want,because we’re on our own. At last.
Then,Saturday morning I realized I want to do the same thing businesses do (including hospitals) when they want to buy something:issue a Request For Proposal (RFP).
With an RFP,the buyer (a company,or me in this case) doesn’t know from whom they’ll buy,but there may be differences that matter a lot. So they write a document that says what’s important to them and circulate it,hoping to find a really good fit for their needs.
A second post announcing my RFP,and linking to it in Google Docs,is here.
I must say I’m surprised at some of the reaction –a couple of people have referred to it as a “reverse auction,”which is a method purchasing agents use to get the lowest price. Price is important to me,but as it says above,I am not lookin’for the low-price bidder! I’m looking for the care I want.
Please,before you comment on this idea,please look at what I wrote –both my rationale in the first post,and the RFP itself. Thanks!