I recently spoke of the health professional who was complaining to me about how hard it is to compete with the public health service that offers “the exact same service” as he provided.
I commented that this health professional was already in trouble because he believed he was nothing special – did not stand out in the marketplace – and was essentially “the same” as the free public heath provider.
Aside from the fact that this professional needs to sharpen up his marketing and differentiate himself in the marketplace – so he is not seen as such a commodity – there in one major line of thought he was missing.
This line of thought is a commonly missed by almost all health professionals – and especially those in competition with free public health services.
This “forgotten theme” is this:
The Free Public Health System – IS NOT Actually FREE At ALL.
Let me explain.
This misguided professional is of the opinion that the public health version of his brand of health service – is free for the client.
Whilst no actual money may change hands when a member of the general community decide to use the “Public Health” service – there are many other costs involved that are not directly measured by physical money changing hands.
Some of these “non obvious costs” may include – but are not limited to:
– the time a member of the public needs to spend on a waiting list to utilize these public health services.
– the lack of choice regarding which actual professional delivers the service – in the public model most often you get allocated to a health care professional and have little control over who that professional is.
– the quality of the public service may not be as high or as tightly controlled as in the private sector provider.
– the location where the public health service is being delivered may be inconvenient and give the user little choice over where they need to go to receive the so called “free” care.
– the range of actual appointment times and days may be restricted – making the public service model inconvenient to the end user.
– complaint resolution and dispute handling – there is no doubt that once you are paying for a service your ability to demand higher quality and complain if it is not delivered – increases dramatically.
The above list are just a few of the possible “non financial” costs involved when your patients decide to use a supposedly “FREE” public health system.
The bottom line if the need, desire or want of the end user to have more choice and more control – over their health services.
I can tell you for a fact – that a large number of health care end users will happily pay to have greater choice over who delivers their care, where it is delivered, when it is delivered and to feel more in control of the process.
Never forget this when you are confronted by the threat of a “free public health service” – or even when attacked by a low cost provider trying to eat into your market share.
I welcome your comments on this topic.