Monday, September 19, 2011

True Value in Healthcare

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:
  1. The activity must be something the patient wants/needs
  2. The activity must be done correctly
  3. 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.  

But the more and more I read about Population Health and ACO, the more and more I've begun to question the the standard definition of value in healthcare.  I've started to subscribe to a more systemic and holistic definition of value, which I refer to as True Value.

My Definition of True Value in Healthcare
The following two guidelines define my current, half-baked view of "true" value in healthcare:
  1. If an activity is related to providing care for a preventable illness, it is waste.
  2. 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

FYI, I prefer comments on LinkedIn or Twitter, so I've shut off comments on this blog.

Thank you for sponsoring my Little League team.  Those mesh hats were sweet.