Patient or Customer?


By Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA

Health care has roots in tradition and authority. Medical providers—experts in the human condition—have long been put on pedestals by those they serve out of respect and reverence for their knowledge.
While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a relationship built on respect and admiration, some believe that the inherent imbalance of power between the provider and patient has perverted basic market influences such as customer choice, price transparency, and competition.

As consumers bear increasing financial responsibility for their care, a shift is occurring in which consumers are becoming more discriminating with regard to choice of provider. This shift is coming as a shock to many providers entrenched in the health care paradigm of yesterday.

Acknowledging this shift and responding to it with an approach to a market that views consumers not as patients (old paradigm) but rather as customers (new paradigm) will allow providers to continue to evolve our profession in a way that serves new demands as they come our way.


Tannus Quatre, PT, MBA, ATC, CSCS, lives at the intersection of physical therapy and entrepreneurship, spending his time helping physical therapists build and operate successful practices through his company, Vantage Clinical Solutions. He specializes in marketing, finance, and business planning, and authors and speaks regularly for the APTA and PPS. He can be reached at tannus@vantageclinicalsolutions.com.