Written by: Samantha Higgins
The health care industry has certain classic departures from other industries. In a lot of ways, the industry has every semblance of a calling. People’s lives and wellbeing can’t be monetized to certain extents. All in all, there are many differences between the health care industry and others. Some are subtle, and others are more pronounced.
Health Care is a Need and not a Want
The most obvious difference is that those seeking health care do not often have the option of choice. They take what is offered. Because health care is not purely driven by the need to make a profit, it is not purely a demand and supply affair. The healthcare industry market consists of people who do not necessarily want the product or service being offered but need it to save their lives and maintain their well-being.
The Health Care Industry is Highly Regulated
The fact that the health industry deals with the physical wellbeing of the community may have something to do with its regulation. As it is now, the health care industry is one of the most supervised. Everything is put under intense scrutiny, from the conception of the drugs to the medical trials of the same to the licensing of the practitioners themselves.
In Health Care, the End Result is Unknown
The question as to whether health care is a commodity or a fundamental human right has persisted for a while now. However, even those who agree that it is a commodity agree that it is somewhat different from other goods and services. For one, when it comes to matters of health care, the result is never defined or assured.
No one walks into a medical center, knowing exactly how the treatment of his supposed ailment will make him feel. This is opposed to other services and industries, such as retail. One knows exactly what to expect, as the product is well defined.
The Health Care Industry isn’t Purely Driven by Profit
Woe unto you if your doctor is only motivated by the check you cut him. Doctors have taken oaths to protect lives at all costs, so we can safely assume that doctors always have your best interests. Since the times of Hippocrates, health care has always taken the approach that human life, health, and well-being are of primacy.
In this way, therefore, unlike other industries, the health care industry does not follow a pure profit-making model. American law requires that any patient requiring emergency care should not be denied treatment.
Furthermore, most hospitals are nonprofit organizations that are not motivated by the thought of turning a profit. In this significant way, the health care industry differs significantly from all other industries. Industries like the hotel and airline industry exist purely to make money and will undoubtedly shut down if they make persistent losses.
The Presence of Third Parties in Health Care
In any other setting, you pay money directly in cash, check, or credit card with money that is your own. Think about booking a hotel room or an airline ticket. However, in the health care industry, it does not work that way. You typically pay for health insurance. In the sad event that you are taken ill, a third party, the health insurer, will pay your health insurer.
In other jurisdictions, citizens are mandated by law to have government medical insurance. This goes a long way in proving that is some ways; health care is a medical right that should ideally be available to all and sundry, regardless of their financial standing.
Healthcare industries also tend to use third parties to help with paperwork and managing patient records. However, they have to find the right patient engagement solutions that still follow all of the HIPPA guidelines and don’t violate doctor-patient confidentiality laws.
Information Asymmetry Exists in the Health Care Industry
Besides, there is great information asymmetry between health care providers and consumers. Medical knowledge is, by its nature, quite complex. Health care is quite a complicated industry reserved for doctors and medical professionals. Accordingly, some of the knowledge and information available to the consumer may be lacking. Even where the available is freely available online, interpreting the technical terms and the information is often difficult for the common man.
Consequently, there is a lack of equity when it comes to the availability of information. The wealthier will often have ready access to such information as they have the ways and means. Those who are less unfortunate may find it difficult to access information and, therefore, good health. In other industries or markets, one is more or less knowledgeable about the product, leading to better-informed choices and higher customer satisfaction.
All told, regardless of where you stand on the debate as to where health care is a commodity or a fundamental human right, you agree that it contains certain peculiarities that set it apart from other industries.