What is the value of your services? More importantly, who sets the value?
I really love LinkedIn, although just lately I have not been on the site or the forums much. I love it because the forums or groups that I have joined allow me to connect to people internationally with differing life experiences and views. People who see our profession through the prism of their life experiences and culture. This leads to really interesting conversations, it also allows you to see familiar issues from a differing point of view. This can only be good for your professional and indeed personal development.
It was during one of my many conversations on one of the groups recently that I realised something. Something base, a concept that I had nodding acquaintance with but had not really appreciated the profound impact of. I have said before that I believe your Patients in fact set the terms of your brand. It is what they feel about you and your Practice and more importantly what they say about you and your Practice that set the terms of your brand. I suddenly realised that they also set the value of your services.
Let me explain, the conversation was based around the separation of product and services as a commercial strategy. There was debate to and fro with some believing that the bundling of services with detailed cost breakdowns on invoices was the way forward. Whilst others leaned towards the separation of charges as an on-going commercial strategy. I put in my ten cents, as I am want to do, I pointed out that either way it was important for our profession to display our value. That in fact it was imperative for us to communicate our value in the process of hearing well as opposed to just hearing better.
It struck me as I wrote it that whilst we feel we have real value to bring to the process and that that skill is worth a certain monetary reward. Have we ever considered what the perceptions of our Patients are? Because it is their perception of our services that sets our value, that is a sobering thought. Lets say that again,
OUR PATIENT’S PERCEPTION SETS THE REAL VALUE OF OUR SERVICES
It is kind of humbling really and I don’t know why I did not really see it before. The concept is just an extension of my other closely held beliefs about our Patients and the commercial strategy that we need to consider. It is something that we need to consider every day, we may set the price, but our Patients set the real value.
Your discussion is quite pertinent to what happens (or happened) in the NHS in UK. There is a possibility that the playing field might change with the NHS Health and Social Care Bill becoming statute, with it being passed in the UK Parliament with lots of bruising and bloodshed.
In a patient determined (purchased) Healthcare market (Whether it be audiology – Hearing aids or any other) access to good quality services are determined by the patient. eg:- In USA (and in similar healthcare systems) “Health” sadly depends on ones wealth ! USA deprives a considerable population access to health ! In USA as in other “developed countries” with increasing unemployment health inequalities will increase !
Access to health is determined by the “value” (demand) set by the patient. If the value matches the price we set for the service it should determine the clinical capacity needed (or increased price) to handle the demand. In an “open” demand led “unequal healthcare market” this equation should be considered.
Demand (value) = price x capacity.
Unfortunately Margaret Hilda Thatcher’s Tory Govt. set about a pseudo – internal market in the National Health Service where patients and Healthcare services were bartered and rationed ‘like potatoes and carrots’ ! The pseudo-market was allowed to grow into a ‘wasteful ginormous bureaucracy tangled in red tape@.
It was to prevent such inequalities in health the NHS (in UK) had its inception in the post war years under a Labour Govt. (with an idealistic Socialist Ethos) to deliver healthcare free at the point of delivery to everyone irrespective of wealth, social class etc. The NHS System works perfectly for some developing countries (eg:- Cuba, Sri Lanka etc. …. where the population is still relatively small) UK is different as it is (or was) a developed country … now fast ascending. When healthcare demand is high , the funds are short and worse still £ 2 billion “efficiency saving” are needed by the chancellor , a re-look at value and price (and also the waste caused by a massive bureaucracy) needs careful scrutiny !
In the UK NHS it is not known to commissioners and medics that very high quality (hospital based) Audiology services are gradually disappearing. The ‘patients being consumed’ by pvt Audiology enterprises some of good quality but some of very poor standard. Unfortunately Health commissioners – apparatchiks who hold the purse strings are not sophisticated enough to know what quality in audiology really means !
You raise some interesting points in relation to the public versus private provision of hearing instrumentation. I think the application of market forces to public provision of healthcare is odd. Although I do realise that the trust system in the NHS has shown some success. If you then apply that model at a macro level, how will it work?