Virtua's Rich Miller thinks the balance of power in health economics will shift to the consumer in coming years as the Affordable Care Act matures.
"I think in this age of health care, the consumer will be more central in terms of the economics," Miller, the chief executive of Virtua Health Inc. told me in our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. (Click here to view my other blog post about Miller's experiences on the front line of health care.)
"What I mean by that is that they'll be buying their products and their insurance, whether in a public exchange or a private exchange. So the relationship to the customer may change when you aren't dealing with large employers insuring people.
"You are dealing with the consumer directly who will buy their own product," Miller said. "That will change the dynamics of competition dramatically. Who can [best] compete for the consumer dollar is going to be the key. If you can't do that, then you are going to struggle."
It's this consumer dynamic that helps explain Virtua's recent push into women's health.
"They are the decision makers," Miller said. "So when you talk about economics and the consumer being front and center, I want to talk to the women in the community who are going to make the economic decisions in their families.
"Part of what we are doing is building women's health programs to talk about insurance models, but also talk about their health and wellness and engaging them through their life span.
"Typically, it's known that women are second and third in line" for health care, Miller said, explaining that women tend to take care of others in their families first. "We want to move that around a little bit and take better care [of them]," he said. Besides improving their health, "actually for selfish reasons, [we want to] reach the women for health care decision making. We're working on that campaign under the banner of consumerism right now."