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MARCH 30, 1998 4 THE PALM BEACH POST Consumer power changing the face of health industry of Miami to provide radiation oncology. Meanwhile, the state's leading health organizations are keeping a close watch on the proceedings. The Florida Medical Organization, the state's top physician organization, has filed documents with the court in support of the physicians. The Florida Hospital Association is backing the hospital. With a settlement unlikely, the trial is expected to occur in midsummer. their own peril, Langston said. ONCOLOGISTS' SUIT GOES ON: When can a hospital unilaterally terminate a physician's practicing privileges for reasons unrelated to a doctor's performance? That question is at the heart of a lawsuit between JFK Medical Center in Atlantis and two radiation oncologists who worked at the hospital for more than a decade. Drs. Jerome Spunberg and Bruce Phillips won an injunction in December that kept them working at the hospital, but the legal battle goes on in Palm Beach Circuit Court. The hospital chose to end their practicing privileges, because it wanted to offer an exclusive contract with the University health care, said Robert Langston, a principal with KPMG in Fort Lauderdale. For example, the survey showed 70 percent of consumers have sought information on health-plan benefits; 65 percent have sought information on a particular medication; 58 percent have sought information on the cost of health care and 50 percent have researched alternative treatments. "The findings strongly suggest that health care consumers are now behaving like traditional consumers in other industries," said Teresa Waters, a Northwestern University researcher. And consumers have helped lead state legislatures and Congress to pass new laws that put a tighter leash around the industry. Consider the new state and feder Phil Galewitz Paying attention to the consumer (or patient) might seem a no-brainer for anyone in the business world. But it's a new concept for many in the health field, especially hospitals and health insurers. That's because most consumers have insurance and don't pay directly for medical services. As a result, most consumers don't shop for health services the way they might for a car or microwave. Hospitals traditionally focused on keeping physicians happy, since doctors are the ones who can admit patients. And health insurers usually concentrated on building good relations with employers, who pay most of their bills. But in the past decade, largely due to patient backlash against managed care, consumers are taking a more active role in their own SPECIALIZING IN Get on the Fast Track at Florida Atlantic University Weekend MBA al laws that ban HMOs from toss ing women out of the hospital too soon after giving birth. Still, most health companies are just starting to take the con sumer into account in their strate gies, Langston said. But those health companies that ignore the need to provide consumer information or make services friendlier or more accessible do so at UNIQUE ART & When Boca Raton Community I Iospital trustees decided in 1996 to sell the hospital, city residents protested and filed lawsuits to stop the sale. And they succeeded in keeping the not-for-profit hospital independent. Apparently, Boca Community is not the only health organization recognizing the power of the consumer. Across the United States, the health-care industry is increasingly listening to consumer demands and changing the way it does business, according to a new study by KFMG Peat Marwick LLP and Northwestern University. About three out of four Americans believe the health industry is changing because of consumer influence, according to a survey of 1,812 people. And nearly 80 percent of 321 health industry executives surveyed also agree the consumers are having greater influence on how their businesses operate. "This seminal survey confirms that consumerism is a broad, powerful and permanent force in health care," said Rich D'Amaro, managing partner of KPMG's health-care practice. 4 , iM4M k "J. A TINT KING ' BOLTDU ry 2011 M. MHJTAIT Tt., WW T"f T 4-421 10."off TINT JO Phil Galewitz writes about the business of health care. Write him at The Palm Beach Post. P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, 33416-4700. (561) 820-4544. email: philg(a pbpost.com r Open House Saturday April 4 9:30 -11:00 a.m. Education Building Room 119 Boca Raton Campus DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR HOME. DESIGNER MERCHANDISE AT A DISCOUNT f i r f A H WW Applications are being accepted for the May W8 class Call today for an application package Broward: (954) 762-5615 Boca Raton: (561) 297-2709 in ii or e-mail to wei'kcnd&fau.edu if rjr?f y '31 TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE POST Call 820-4663 or (8(H)) 654-1231. 3200 S. CONGRESS AVENUE BOYNTON BEACH Between Atlantic Ave. ft Woofbright M. (5S1J73S-7e00 HOURS: MimtUy ihm Sjiurdy I (lam ?pin I 1 l.i nii.i.r.1 .iin mi. in..