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The Time of the Empowered Health Consumer is Here

By Seth Katz, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, Vice President of HIM and Revenue Cycle at University Health


Healthcare has a secrecy problem.

For decades, paper was the backbone of the medical record—an ever-expanding file folder of multi-colored paper punctuated with carbon copies and scrawled notes providers left in the margins. In a way, it acted like a shield that kept a distance between providers and patients. It was treated like a classified document, largely inaccessible to the very patients about whom the records were written.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included provisions for incentive payments to help healthcare organizations transition to electronic health records, as well as begin the process of making them more practically accessible for patients.

After the paper record became an emblem of the past, we saw the rise of patient portals. Listed as a requirement for providers to qualify for Meaningful Use incentive payments, hospitals across the country took a “checking the box” approach when they enabled patient portal technology, but then did little with them—let alone maximize their potential. Many healthcare organization leaders, compliance officers, and medical staff were terrified of the idea of posting a patient’s clinical record. Giving people real-time, full access to their information was uncharted territory. Not to mention that health technology vendors’ various proprietary platform made sharing information between providers difficult, just as it made it difficult for patients to keep all their information consolidated and straight if they had providers in multiple systems.

The information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, recently passed by the federal government (over the strong objection of many hospitals and large healthcare IT vendors it should be noted) stand to alleviate some of these issues.

And now the latest secrecy problem to take center stage in healthcare? Hiding prices.

The Hospital Price Transparency final rule went into effect on January 1, 2021, but some providers have gone to great lengths to avoid having to actually produce the federally required reporting of costs and reimbursements that the rule mandates.

Payors are making efforts of their own as well. Their deadline to comply was July 1, 2022. In order to meet the technical requirements to comply, many posted the information in file types that most people cannot access, or posted files of such large size that it wouldn’t be a surprise if opening those files crashed your computer.

How many industries can you think of that also behave this way?

This is the equivalent of going to a department store to buy birthday gifts and being told the bill will come 7-10 days after you leave the store, and that’s the amount you will have to pay. Or perhaps it’s more like shopping online for a new hair dryer, but instead of having product details and pricing information available upfront, you just have to pick one and hope it’s not the most expensive or a poor quality product.

How can we expect patients to manage their health if we keep hiding everything from them?

On Monday, October 10, 2022, at 1:30pm, I will be presenting my session at AHIMA22 Global Conference, “Hospitals Aren’t Hotels, Airlines, or Restaurants—But Should They Think Like Them?” I will delve deeper into this topic and what healthcare organizations need to do now to avoid going the way of businesses like Blockbuster that have fallen to the wayside.

Every other industry in the country is hyper-focused on the consumer and their experience. It’s time healthcare joined in.

Hear More from Seth Katz at AHIMA22

Seth Katz will present “Hospitals Are Not Hotels, Airlines, or Restaurants—But Should They Think Like Them?” on Monday, October 10, at 1:30 pm at AHIMA22 Global Conference in Columbus, OH.

Attendees of his presentation will:

  • Learn about the external forces that are pushing healthcare organizations to adopt more consumer-centric models, including those from government regulations and those from the private sector.
  • Learn to successfully navigate the current wave of regulations and ensure compliance at their facilities—while also understanding what's coming in 2023 and beyond.
  • Be empowered to think innovatively about their organization's plans relevant to these changes as well as their own career paths.

Browse the AHIMA22 schedule by impact area to find more presentations on the topic of consumerism.


Join Us at AHIMA22

Connect, Learn, and Grow at AHIMA22

Connect with fellow passionate health information professionals at the global conference that brings together the industry's leading voices for an unforgettable experience. From the latest on healthcare hot topics to inspiring keynotes, we have so much in store for you!

Register and Book Your Hotel Today

AHIMA has secured discounted room rates at hotels near the Greater Columbus Convention Center and encourages participants to book within the AHIMA room block during the registration process for the best selection and rates.

Browse the AHIMA22 Agenda

Our full schedule is now available to browse on the AHIMA22 Global Conference website. Get a preview of the sessions, networking opportunities, reception events, and more. Check back frequently for important updates and exciting additions.

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