Monday, 1 November 2010

Productive 6: Are Patients Productive?

This is the sixth note in the the Productivity series by Sarah Fraser. You can find the earlier notes here.

Mark Russell commented on the first in this series and he got me thinking. Healthcare is different from being a consumer of say a car dealership. We know that. We can learn from techniques used in industry and we can apply them to our services to gain some benefits.  But I wonder whether we are too focused on programs such as Lean, or too focused on seeing the patient as someone with whom we need to engage?

The car dealership or company with be thinking about their customers constantly. It feels to me they spend time in empathy mode, figuring out how to make things easier for the customer. This ease translates into more sales (yes, I know I am reducing an entire academic discipline into two sentences.) They may even run focus groups.

When it comes to patients and productivity I am thinking the relationship is more than one of engagement. As a patient I am not seeking to be engaged with my local healthcare providers. I am expecting the provision to help me be a productive member of society. This means, for example, I don't' want to take an entire day off work so I can have an 8 minute blood test. Equally, I am prepared to to help the providers be productive by being an efficient and responsible patient - but I may need help to do so. If I have a chronic disease, then help me learn how best to manage it so everyone benefits from this productivity.

When the patient's interface with the provider is not productive for either party, then we have work to do.

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