Looking at the Industry Through a ‘Consumer’ Lens

John Marcille

Putting out a business magazine is a creative venture and, as in all such efforts, much happens that isn’t planned. I am often surprised by how articles that are assigned to different writers at different times wend their lonely routes toward the same destination — one that wasn’t on the horizon during the planning stage. Lately, all roads (or article research, anyway) seem to lead to consumer-directed health care.

A frequent theme in this, our September issue, is patient adherence, which I suppose can be seen as a suburb of CDHC. Adherence points to that mythic hero, the educated and involved consumer, who is the cornerstone of a system that proponents promise is of the consumer, for the consumer, and ultimately by the consumer. (That’s if you don’t see CDHC as just some old-fashioned cost shifting in sparkling, trendy clothes. I suspect that when it all plays out there will be substantial evidence for both views.)

We have a story about how pharmaceutical companies are working more closely with health plans and employers to encourage patient adherence with medication regimensLobbyist, consultant, and former bureaucrat Jeanne Scott, the subject of our provocative Q&A, wants to see health care come into the information age, with information that patients can actually understand. The Employer Update column talks about how plans are offering “health coaching.” Even our cover story on the future of managed Medicare, though not ostensibly about adherence, talks about elements of care (disease management, most obviously) in which adherence plays a vital role. And Mark McClellan is promoting CDHC initiatives in the Medicare program.

Meanwhile, adherence to our role — informing readers — means being constantly surprised and challenged by covering a dynamic industry.

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