This morning I had the privilege of waking up to several conversations on Twitter via Marie Ennis-O’Connor better known in the Twittersphere as @JBBC. The topic of the conversation was about the labels we use as people that seek healthcare. The other people in the conversation were @PatientAsPaper Claire Warren (@ClaireWarren0) and Mary Knight (@marykni47043675).
By definition the word “patient” means a person receiving or registered to receive medical treatment. Just the definition alone makes it a bit subservient and submissive.
The word “client” means a person using the services of a professional person or company.
The word “consumer” means a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.
So do the words we use in healthcare change the way we address the challenges?
Historically we refer to the end user as patients. Perhaps that is one of the main reasons we take an inside-out approach when addressing problems? We focus on the process, the technology, or the people inside of a hospital, healthcare organization, or clinic and forget to define the problem from the patient perspective. We focus on ourselves and making our lives better instead of making life easier on those that need the care?
If we move towards the word client, perhaps we also move in a direction that makes us care a bit more about the end users challenges and problems? However, if people are clients, and not necessarily controlling where they focus their dollars, will change how healthcare insides view their needs, wants, and desires?
What if we begin to actually become true healthcare consumers? If we begin to choose where our healthcare dollars go based on who best meets our needs, desires, and challenges maybe it will entice healthcare insiders to take a new approach?
Perhaps as we transition to consumerism in healthcare we begin to force healthcare practitioners, administrators, and leaders to begin taking an outside-in view of the healthcare world? Perhaps focusing on what the patients want, when they want it, how they want to receive it, where they want to receive care, and how much they are willing to pay for that care will drive true innovation?
In my opinion, this story is not about patient experience. This story needs to be about consumer experience.
A patient is traditionally told what their story will be over that specific diagnosis.
Now that I am a consumer, I choose to tell my story in the manner I want, when I want, where I want and in order for you to continue to help participate in my story telling, you need to ensure that my needs are met not just today, but for all of my needs over the course of my lifetime.
Perhaps the words we choose in healthcare tell different stories. I think it is time for a new story.
I would love to know what you think. Do you prefer to be a patient, a client, or a consumer of healthcare? Or do you prefer another term? Or does it not matter at all?
Please tweet me your responses: @cancergeek
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
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