Healthcare economics from a population health perspective

Discussion: The Business of Healthcare

“I went to school to take care of patients. Why do I care about economics?”

“The hospital I work for is constantly looking at ways to reduce costs, that shouldn’t be my problem. I need to care for my patients and do it in the best way possible.”

Whether you like it or not, if you are a health professional, you are an active participant in the healthcare economic system. It is going to be important for you to understand how your organization operates and why some decisions are made that can affect your daily routine, work, and patient care. To fully understand, it is helpful to look at general business economic principles and how those are similar to and different from healthcare economic principles. As you will read this week’s Learning Resources, while the terms and general meanings are the same, it will help you understand the economic forces and relationships that impact the decisions that you make, the hospital makes or the insurance companies make as everyone tries to balance quality patient care with making a profit and staying open in a competitive healthcare market.

To Prepare:

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week.
  • Consider the following concepts related to economics:
    • Supply & Demand
    • Elasticity & Surplus
    • Market Equilibrium & Disequilibrium
    • Competitive Markets & Economies of Scale
    • Cost Shifting
  • Select two concepts related to economics from the list provided to focus on for this Discussion. (Note: Each bullet in the list is considered one concept)
  • Reflect on how these concepts may differ for the economics of healthcare compared to the economics of a typical business.

By Day 4

Post an explanation of the economics of healthcare. In your post, please be sure to address the following for the two concepts related to economics that you selected:

  • Describe how the two concepts you selected are related to a typical business market with a tangible products (e.g., applesauce, refrigerators, and cars).
  • Explain how these same concepts may be different for the business of healthcare which is an intangible product (for example, consider a sudden illness or accident, elective surgical procedures, or management of chronic illness). Be specific, and provide examples.
  • Be sure to support your Discussion with a reference to course materials or a reference within the last three years.
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