Patient experience is based in part upon the quality of the services, good medical outcomes and good value for the patient. For each patient there are different factors which will weigh heavier in their decision making process. In the end, the value proposition and delivery must be completely to their satisfaction. We can take the words of people in the industry – good and bad – in an effort to improve upon this patient experience. This is the crux of the ability for growth.
We need to take steps to do it through training, education, sharing of data, reassessment and development. There is little productivity offered in badmouthing or discrediting people or organizations. Whether numbers sound better because they have been paid for or whether someone is perceived to be an expert is irrelevant. Evident biases and obvious personal opinions interjected prior to any comment inevitably discredits what is attempted to be offered anyway and certainly does not provide what is needed for us as professionals to build sustainable business models. I believe this is what most of us are looking to achieve?
There are experts in every part of the chain of service. Professionalism is expected at all stops along the patient management process. And then there are those few that stand on the sidelines making observations. Those who have never assisted a patient inquiry, attended to a patient, received a patient complaint and helped them through a nightmare experience – those groups may not be the best fit for building stepping stones. From the inquiries received daily from patients, together with complaints about providers and services, and in some cases reports of preventable bad outcomes, you can really see where the needs of the industry are essentially not being met. Ranking on a facilitator’s top ten list of countries should not be the primary goal. Delivering good patient outcomes should be.
My recent blog post specifically was a call for standardization of metrics and collection of data and for a better attitude. MTA has never provided a report of the number of patients traveling specifically because they are not standardized enough to benchmark country to country. We do not create our own numbers, and we do not hold value in published numbers from less than credible sources. We also do not “froth at the mouth” when we hear numbers disputed as we regularly dispute them ourselves. It will come – in due time and until then, we advise our partners to keep their information and reporting flowing, as the industry really needs it.
There are plenty of available academic reports from trusted peer reviewed journals, which have been reviewed and can be found on the MTA member’s pages of our website. There is however a lack of implementation of the metrics recommended therein and, accordingly, a call for action should be reiterated.
Obstacles should be used as stepping stones and progress should be made. We are taking what we have learned from the patients to put best practices in place at the healthcare provider level. We organize educational workshops in cities throughout the US for employers and recognize the need for education to their employees of not only opportunities to travel for healthcare, but also the need for education about prevention which inevitably provides for opportunity in advance or instead of “last resort care.” We have developed an official lobbying organization called International Healthcare Consumers Coalition to lobby the US government for reimbursement of overseas healthcare services for Medicare as a starting point. We created alliances for consumer education through very large consumer networks. As a trade association, this is for the benefit of the industry as a whole. We cannot act as a trade association and patient advocacy as it may create conflicts of interests. However, by operating under best practices, we as members of the trade association, providers of healthcare, stakeholders and facilitators, need to be the advocates for patients by giving them the best care. Let’s not lose sight of that most important fact which can get lost in all the “murky water.”
And for David whose response to my blog post was that of Stonehenge and Druids imagery – brilliant, I see it as well. These are progressive times and what we leave behind in healthcare should not be a mystery. Not much was known about the Druids as they were nomadic and did not leave anything behind. So I suppose perhaps a good take away is that we all should to do something to leave a meaningful and impressionable mark – not only for own benefit, but directly or indirectly in the lives of the patients and their families.