What Does Healthcare Mean to You?

A recent Tweet from NACSmeetings read: “Healthcare: What it means to you? Tuesday Business Program Keynote with David Cutler, Harvard Professor, 2010 #NACDS Pharmacy Conference.”

Healthcare’s greatest inherent challenge is that it means something different to every person. Health is more oft than not, experienced primarily at the individual level. Healthcare is personal. The healthcare differences, definitions, and issues between any two people can be vast.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “health” as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity* .”
Within the context of the WHO definition, the patient-centric model may be viewed as such:

Within the framework of the patient-centric model presented (above), I believe “health” is wholly experienced at the micro-level when the patient (individual) is able to fully interact (communicate) with its “health influencers” in a meaningful way. These interactions assist in developing a global understanding of health factors and help produce the well-being framework necessary for a person to “feel” healthy. “Health influencers” may include everything from the macro-environment, to personal biases, beliefs, and behaviors related to health.

I believe individuals should feel empowered when approaching or interacting with the healthcare system and each respective “health influencer.” For example, these behaviors can be as simples as having a meaningful dialogue with a member of the patient care team, having a productive interaction with an insurance company, or commenting on a blog post from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The doctor-patient interaction is by far one of the most complex “business” exchanges. This interaction also represents the greatest opportunity for improvement within the medical system. Many patients leave the physician’s office unsure of exactly what transpired. They generally know they were touched here, they were touched there, and a few test were conducted. The patient is then explained (in medical terminology) what is wrong or right. If this single interaction could be improved upon many patients would feel better about healthcare in general. I wish more doctors could be like Patch Adams. 

In a nutshell, that’s what healthcare means to mean. What does healthcare mean to you?

* preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

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