Last week Paul Krugman wrote “Patients Are Not Consumers,” his reasoning is here.
I don’t like to refer to patients as consumers, either. My reasoning is much more convoluted and I’m not entirely sure of the proper term. Consumer is such a … dirty word. (Which is such a pretentious thought.) And consuming healthcare resources is so … sensitive.
People is too broad and desensitized. Guests is too Disneyish. Visitors are people who say hello to those in hospital beds. Customer suggests material transactions. Modifiers ([insert modifier here] patient) become a mouthful. “Sweeties”, “Honeys”, and “Babys” are much too inappropriate.
Think about this–healthcare has already reserved a very special term for the customer/consumer/guest: patient. What’s so wrong with patient? Negative connotation? We’ve assigned it that.
And we can certainly unassign it, too. Until a better argument comes along (if it does…), I’m sticking with patient. They’re special.