Me, Amateur “M.D.”

Consumers, marketers and the healthcare industry are actively writing the latest chapter in the evolving chronicles of consumer control. The explosion of retail healthcare—such as Wal-Mart's expansion of Redi-Clinics(1)—shows how marketers are giving consumers the opportunity to reshape their relationship with the family doctor. But while greater access to healthcare information presents the opportunity for consumers to guide themselves on healthcare decisions, they still face challenges in managing the volume of healthcare information that's available to them from myriad sources. This week's MONITOR Minute explores how consumers are pursuing self-directed care— and the information challenges they face as they do so.

A SECOND OPINION, PLEASE

Consumers have become increasingly facile with information, and healthcare information is no exception. The 2007 Yankelovich Multinational Preventive Health & Wellness Study shows that almost three-quarters (73%) of all consumers consult with at least two sources of information before making important health decisions. This willingness to find their own “second opinions” comes from consumers' increasing confidence in being able to locate the information they need when they need it. Alternative sources of information have become less daunting for some consumers—less than half (47%) now say that they are “overwhelmed by all of the sources of information available today,” compared with 54% in 2003.