- Health Services must establish relations with Customers not Patients, because the association people have with the term ‘Patient’ is usually a negative one. When people hear the word ‘Patient’, they instantly think of Hospitals, Doctors, pain, suffering and very often patience. The very essence of the word Patient.
The origin of the word itself is from the Latin word ‘patiens’, meaning the one who suffers. Now, the reality is that ‘Patients’ often endure a certain degree of suffering, especially in Intensive Care. But only because they are suffering, does not mean Health Services, whether Public or Private should not treat people as Customers. Health Services are organisations that deliver services just like any other organisation or profession and Health Services must not limit or perceive the service recipient as a Patient but as a Customer- yet they still often do.
2. Customers are people with choices. One basic human need is choice. People do want to have choices- and in the 21st Century, people have plenty of choices in all areas in life. And still- especially the health care industry, which is one of the most highly regulated industries- people and health care consumers, have only limited options to chose from. Why is this, you may ask? Health Care is still seen as a necessary evil and it is still not seen as an Industry where the Consumer should be the one determining the level of services. Health Care spending is still heavily reliant on government budgets, rather than on innovation. And unlike in other Industries, where the focus is on value creation and tailor made products or services for Customers, the Health Industry limits itself to budgets and old fashioned perceptions and paradigms that do not serve an ageing population very well.
3. Value Creation. What is value creation in health Care? And how does one determine value creation in Health Care? Value creation in health care goes way beyond just being ‘healthy’. According to the World health organisations definition, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. With that definition in mind, most health services and public health services in particular, would fail to deliver on this very definition. The definition only looks at the individual and does not mention the well being of the individual’s family or dependants. Especially, when it comes to Long- term ventilated Individuals in Intensive Care, the families usually suffer just as much as the Individual. Families suffer more on an emotional and psychological level, rather than the physical pain suffered by the individual requiring ventilation with Tracheostomy. But still, as we all know- the emotional and psychological pain can easily result in physical pain eventually.
From my perspective, value creation in health care needs to take a holistic stand point and a holistic approach and not only needs to look at the individual, but also at the family of the individual.
Value Creation in other Industries usually means solving problems from a Customers’ perspective and other Industries are usually very good at solving the Customers’ problem- otherwise they could not survive, let alone make a profit. This is often not the case in the health Industry. Long surgical and medical waiting lists in Public Hospitals appear to be the norm nowadays- and that’s in Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Value creation is something that does not go hand-in-hand with Public hospital waiting lists. Yet health is one of the most important factors determining the individuals and their Families well- being.
4. Tailor made services. Take a look at other Industries. Tailor made products or services are once again, the essence and the determining factor of any Customer buying a product or services. Yet again, health services often fail to deliver on this very promise. Australia, like any other developed country has an ageing population and has no solutions, to offer Quality of life, outside of highly priced Nursing Homes for the ageing population. There is no innovation. The whole concept- or the lack of such- of the government dealing with the aged care crises is doomed to fail, as the governments’ paradigm is based on a scarcity mindset. Once again, it lacks innovation.
Take European countries for example- and yes, I am probably biased as I have a European background and I spent the first 30 years of my life in Europe, seeing my paternal Grandparents ageing and at some point becoming dependent on Nursing services. They were able to continue to live in their home until their early nineties. My Grandmother was wheelchair bound for probably the last 10 years of her life and my Grandfather took care of her, with the help of a mobile Nursing Service. And we are talking about a ‘proper’ nursing service, with Qualified Registered Nurses. No ‘skimmed’ down Nursing service that offers services with auxilary nurses. And the good thing is that up to this day, people usually have a choice. They can choose whether they want to go into a nursing home or whether they want to stay at home. There are public and private home care nursing services available and in 90% of the cases they are government funded. And there are a lot more people in Europe than in Australia. France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy have a population of 200-250 Million people(compared to 20 Million people in Australia) in total and the system does not collapse despite an ageing population.
The health Industry in Europe is far more entrepreneurial than in Australia, and this is encouraged by the governments, because innovation delivers solutions, tailor made services and is directly offering solutions to Health Care Customers and their families.
5. Research. The health Industry and Hospitals in particular are very research driven. Many hospitals, especially the big metropolitan teaching hospitals have research programs amass. Research has its place in human medicine and inn health care. I will not deny that fact. But my clinical practice has also shown me that there are many unethical and questionable approaches towards research. Money spent in research must be reallocated towards health services that deliver innovative health services that make a real difference in people’s lives and safe the government money by providing cost- effective services that people want and that are Customer driven! The Australian Government spends around $400- $450 Million annually for medical research grants. I really wonder who and how anybody can measure the effectiveness of such massive sums spend annually. It is certainly not measured in terms of Customer value such as having access to effective and immediate health services such as surgery or Chemo- and Radiotherapy. Medical research very often fails to look at what the Customer in health care really wants and needs, which is taking care of their psychological and emotional needs. Medical research is all about statistics, numbers and parameters- psychological and emotional needs of a health care Customer are not terms medical researchers would use.