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Poll: Consumers Are No Longer Sleeping Giants

Patients and health care executives agree on one thing: Consumers have found their voices in health care — and are forcing changes as a result. So says consulting group KPMG Peat Marwick, which surveyed 1,800 families and 300 health care executives.

According to the study, 72 percent of Americans believe the health care industry is changing to reflect their demands. One in three health care executives — including those in hospitals, health plans, pharmaceutical manufacturers and physician practice management companies — thinks consumers are more likely to complain than they used to be, while almost 73 percent of executives say they have "advanced consumer satisfaction" mechanisms, such as linking compensation to survey results and measuring satisfaction at the point of sale, in place.

And if you think you can snow the people, think again. The study indicates consumers and purchasers are more savvy than ever — and will use that knowledge to make smarter purchasing decisions. Perhaps sensing this, nearly 80 percent of executives surveyed say their companies offer community education services, which range from off-site events to in-house hot lines.

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