Value-based healthcare is a term that gets used a lot today. Things like the Affordable Care Act are influencing a shift away from the fee-for-service healthcare model that currently exists in the U.S. But value is a word with a lot of possible definitions. What exactly does value mean in a healthcare context? What does it mean for patients, for physicians, for suppliers? While value can be seen as a purely financial term, defined as the amount of money saved, it can also mean more than just dollars and cents.
Let’s look at value from a patient’s perspective. Already, value could mean multiple things.
For an everyday illness like a sinus infection or the flu, access to convenient healthcare could provide the most value. As an example, if you wake up on a Saturday morning with a sore throat and congestion, you could call your primary care physician and make an appointment for the next week. You would likely continue to experience symptoms, maybe even needing a sick day on Monday. Or, you could visit a walk-in clinic on the same Saturday that you wake up with symptoms and receive treatment immediately, saving yourself a weekend of bed rest and the use of a sick day. That time is valuable to you as well as your employer.
Alternatively, if you have congestive heart failure and require a complicated procedure that only a few expert physicians perform, then suddenly the outcome of your treatment is most valuable to you. Traveling to the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic, while not convenient or inexpensive, becomes worth it to get the best care possible.
Another definition of value could be a positive patient experience. For example, when patients have a bit more control over their experience, such as when a pregnant couple chooses the hospital where their baby will be delivered, they might find the amenities most valuable. Does it have private rooms? Good food? Comfortable areas for family members to pass the time? When the quality of medical care is fairly standard across facilities, then suddenly these amenities become valuable.
Even looking at value from only the perspective of patients shows us how complicated defining it can be. Our challenge as a supplier is learning what value means to each of our customers, and how their patients define value. Sometimes, value could mean delivering products at a lower price. Other times, value could mean creating a product that saves significant time during a procedure.
The shift away from fee-for-service won’t happen overnight. Changing the healthcare model will take time, but momentum is building and organizations are making changes toward a new model. Keeping all possible definitions in mind when discussing value-based healthcare is critically important to ensuring that we arrive at a model that all parties find valuable. We’ll be revisiting this topic and defining value from other perspectives in healthcare.
How does your organization define value? How do your patients define it? Join the conversation on Twitter @CookMedical.
Check out the first post in our From the Desk of Dave Reed series here.
David Reed is currently Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Healthcare Business Solutions for Cook Medical Incorporated. With over 30 years of life science industry expertise Dave holds an MBA from California Miramar University and serves as a member of the Indiana University Kelly School of Business Supply Chain and Global Management Academy Advisory Board.