What I learned from consumers

I was privileged to work at Consumer Reports for seven years as the Director of the Health Ratings Center. As a doctor I thought I already knew a lot about patients and what mattered to them, but my time at Consumer Reports taught me a lot. When I had the chance to hear from medical consumers, especially the ones who had been activated by clinical outcome or economic inequities, I realized I had only heard and lived one side of the story.

What Consumer Reports is really good at is sharing reliable information in a way that empowers people to make informed decisions in the marketplace. My job in health ratings was no different – I analyzed data and translated well-organized reviews of science into meaningful comparisons to help people make important decisions about their health.

Throughout the past 75 years Consumer Reports has worked hard to reduce information inequality across the mass market. However, at the individual level, there’s some catching up to do. A major reason health markets don’t work as well as they could is that most patients don’t have easy access to their personal health information. Instead they rely primarily on their doctors, nurses and pharmacists to guide their health care decisions. And that often means confusion.

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