XYZ Hospital – Money back guarantee
Acme Specialty Services – On-time appts or we pay you
We Wish Think Tank – Research for patients
People’s Pharma – Medications you can afford
I love value propositions: vague, aspirational, ethics remote. Think: Uber – The smartest way to get around; Apple iPhone – The Experience IS the Product; Walmart – Everyday low prices; Google – Search Engine for the World
This month I heard the term value proposition in two meetings I attended: A CMS Technical Expert Panel about the value-based measurement system and an iHope Study meeting (Improving Hospital Outcomes through Patient Engagement). It came up as, What is the Value Proposition for researchers, measure developers, and healthcare executives for patient participation? This seemed important to me. If we advocates are trying to sell the idea that patients and caregivers should be at the table for policy making, research, measure development, healthcare delivery don’t we need a clear value proposition?
What is a value proposition? A marketing term? Value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This statement convinces a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings will. Companies use this statement to target customers who will benefit most from using the company’s products. Read more here.
I certainly can find resources for healthcare executives creating a value proposition to market to patients, such as The Five Key Elements to a Hospital’s Value Proposition. But let’s say that our audience is researchers, measure developers, or healthcare executives. What, then, is the value statement for patient participation in governance, design, operations, and learning? I called my friend and go-to brain, Mighty Casey Quinlan. As usual, she expanded my mind. She suggested that Value Propositions assume a relationship between equal partners. Equal partnerships in healthcare (between clinicians and patients) seems to be my life work. But, as Casey explained the business of health care is anything but equal. Although most money in healthcare in the US comes from sick or well individuals’ taxes, wages, earnings, or savings we have the collective perception that it comes from insurers, employers, governments. This creates a cliff size imbalance in the relationship. It could be similar to building a house. Most of us don’t have the skills, time, or resources to build a house ourselves. We hire a contractor to manage and coordinate the skilled people who purchase and assemble materials that end up a house. We pay for the house. There’s an equal partnership. Our money, their work. Could be, but isn’t. Not if we don’t accept that it’s our money. No equal relationship, really no relationship at all.
So what’s our value proposition for investing our wages, taxes, savings, and earnings in our healthcare system? I’m having trouble getting my brain around this. Any ideas?