In the year and a half that I've been working in healthcare, I've heard some really good arguments from some really smart folks regarding what makes an activity value-added. Based on what I've heard, read, studied, and observed, the prevailing approach to defining value in healthcare is the following:
The Standard Definition of Value in Healthcare
Under this definition, for an activity to be considered value-added, it must satisfy three requirements:
- The activity must be something the patient wants/needs
- The activity must be done correctly
- The activity must change the form/fit/function of the patient
If it does not satisfy all three of these requirements, an activity is considered non-value-added under this approach.
This is a pretty strict approach, especially considering that it does not recognize the value of activities that contribute to the correct diagnosis of illness, something which I believe is of tremendous value to the patient. Until recently, I've tended to favor a slightly more lax definition of value.
My Definition of True Value in Healthcare
The following two guidelines define my current, half-baked view of "true" value in healthcare:
- If an activity is related to providing care for a preventable illness, it is waste.
- If an activity is related to providing care for an unpreventable illness, and satisfies the three requirements of The Standard Definition of Value in Healthcare as shown above, it is value-added
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