Patients are consumers. Patients are customers. Patients are health plan members. Patients are part of special populations.
Can patients also be providers of valuable insight?
As the value-based healthcare discussion continues to take root across the medical community, it seems like a good time to engage an important stakeholder – THE PATIENT!
Defining value-based care continues to be elusive for some health organizations as cost continues to be the most influential factor in developing anything new. Michael Porter from Harvard Business School provides us with an astute definition of value in healthcare:
“Value is defined as outcomes relative to costs, it encompasses efficiency. Cost reduction without regard to the outcomes achieved is dangerous and self-defeating, leading to false ‘savings’ and potentially limiting effective care.”
This sounds simple enough with a very clear focus on outcomes. Perfect. We can all relate to aiming for desired outcomes in nearly everything we do. Traditional retail products and services are purchased with defined outcomes in mind for the consumer. If the product doesn’t meet the need as advertised or the service doesn’t work, a refund is issued. Duh duh duh, dun…Enter the business of healthcare! Seems logical that the business rules in the retail space could apply to healthcare too.
Porter highlights another important facet of value:
“Outcomes should include the health circumstances most relevant to patients. They should cover both near-term and longer-term health, addressing a period long enough to encompass the ultimate results of care.”
How closely related are the outcomes that providers and insurance payors focus on compared to those that patients care about most? Outcomes that are most relevant to patients can be difficult to uncover if health providers make assumptions that rely on traditional metrics of care. When was the last time your physician or nurse asked you about your expectations for the outcomes of their service? Establishing accountability for healthcare provider performance becomes more accurate when the outcomes we are measuring become more dynamic.
Are patients the answer?
Good news here. With the recent emphasis around Patient Experience as a measurable outcome, value-based healthcare efforts just got a bit easier. As it turns out, patients have always had a lot of opinions and feedback regarding their healthcare experience. The problem is that generally speaking the patient voice has not been formally captured in a way that keeps it from being undermined by business drivers. The Patient Experience movement recognizes the individual healthcare journey is the common bond between all of the stakeholders involved in a patient’s care.
We, as providers, are at the Value-Based Healthcare Table and need to be prepared to learn from the Patients that are sitting next to us. Ultimately, the desired health outcomes do not belong to the providers, payers, or manufacturers: They belong to the patient. It’s time to start measuring, reporting, and sharing outcomes data for our PATIENTS to our PATIENTS. An educated patient is an empowered patient. Now that is outcomes focused synergy!