​I had the privilege last week of sitting in on a focus group with consumers about healthcare. This particular group was between 25-35 and they were healthy. So, it was interesting to get a sense of how they think about their healthcare and what moves them to make decisions about where they get care and when. The big takeaway is that for most of the folks in this age group, they’re relying on their primary care physicians and if something is wrong, the first place they go is online, which conforms to everything we have heard. In fact, in some surveys, as many as 77 percent of patients use search engines before they book a medical appointment. So, they’re hungry for information. They do want to feel like they have control over their care, which is why giving them information or finding information independently is so important. They are also very sensitive to how they are treated, not just by their physician but by office staff as well. A rude receptionist or assistant was enough to send them to a different primary care physician or practice. So is convenience and location. If they have to travel a long distance to a doctor or a hospital, they’re not happy. And while the healthcare community is focused on controlling or reducing costs, consumers – at least these consumers – don’t buy it. It’s a cautionary tale for sure. They view any talk about controlling costs as somehow limiting their choices or not giving them the best care. “Value” may turn out to be a more palatable term to use. There’s no question that as health reform takes effect and insurance products change, it will be critical to bring the consumer into the conversation. The focus group was a small window into what that will take. It won’t be easy. By Michal Regunberg, Senior Vice President