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Healthcare Value – 4 Different Meanings

Shocker. Healthcare Value doesn’t mean the same to all stakeholders.

This seems a pretty clear statement on its face, but most people are approaching healthcare value needs too holistically.

Seeing the major stakeholders in a list brings to mind some serious differences related to needs.

  • Patients
  • Employers
  • Medical Practitioners
  • Payors

See what I mean?

Foremost in a patient’s mind is not going to be the productivity impacts related to poor health. The cost a doctor’s office incurs to deliver efficient healthcare is likely pretty far down the list as well. When people are doing their best to get and stay well, they really don’t have a lot of concern about percentage of Gross National Product spent on healthcare or viability of the health insurance industry as a whole.

So what does the patient want?

People want to be treated as a co-participant in their own health, instead of as an observer in someone’s practice. They want to have sufficient time to heal, when they do get ill. They want help immediately, by someone they know – not in six weeks when someone can fit them in.  People want to be treated kindly. They want to be fully covered, instead of paying on the way out and then wondering what else they might be billed for.  People want quick solutions to things they perceive to be easy problems to solve. People want a one-stop shop for their healthcare needs.

Employers have needs too.

Employers are still the largest purchasers of healthcare. More than half of Americans get health insurance through their jobs. But if the care is not effective, meaning people get treated but don’t get well, the impact to productivity is huge. This costs companies an average of $2000 per employee per year. That’s money that doesn’t get reinvested into expansion, better quality widgets, more hiring, or better benefits.

But let’s not forget Doctors.

Caseloads are swelling exponentially, cost to implement technologies are a huge burden, and patients are mostly not compliant in their own care. Doctors are really struggling to remain financially viable, while trying to incorporate new mandates into their process of delivering care. Efficiently running a medical office is a Herculean task  that doctors spend an average of 16.8 hours a day doing.

Parsing the discussion about value in healthcare has to be done carefully – if you are talking to a Doctor, or an insurance provider, or an employer, the definition of value will be different .  To my mind we get the most value out of the discussion if we discussed how to increase healthcare value as patients. After all, it’s the one thing we all have, or will have, in common.

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