Is Time On Your Side? Where Healthcare Customers See The Ultimate Value

By Tom Schramski, PhD, CMAA

Volume 3 Issue 1, January 5, 2016

timeMore than a decade ago, UNESCO conducted a study about the perceived value of time in cultures as diverse as Sub-Saharan Africa and the urban environs of New York City.  Despite significant differences in climate, traditions, lifestyle, and income there was one constant: those observed consistently placed a higher value on their time than they did on money.  This makes sense, of course.  Whether you are hunting and gathering or racing to work on the subway, you are always paying attention to your available time.

The implications for healthcare customers and the evolution of related services and products are profound.  We want the healthcare system to appreciate our time, which will require changes in how the healthcare delivery system has operated for the past half century.

Successful healthcare executives and investors are paying attention to the following:

The Outpatient Way

As Patrick Pilch of BDO recently noted, “…outpatient services will play an increasingly important role…as payers and providers aim to deliver quality care”.  This is exactly what is happening: note the proliferation of urgent care and ambulatory care centers.  Customers routinely rate these experiences more positively than traditional inpatient settings, which take more of their time.  This is also at the foundation of the growth in Intensive Outpatient treatment (IOP) for substance abuse: treatment time is essential, but so is the time with the friends, family, and co-workers who can support long-term success.

At My Doorstep

The subscription economy fueled by Amazon and others is in full swing and can conserve valuable time.  If you can offer your healthcare product or service easily on demand or on a regularly scheduled basis, it can save patients an extra trip to Walgreen’s or CVS.  If you can deliver the product quickly at minimal or no charge, the savings are even greater.

At My Home

Since last year when we first discussed the CMS Independence At Home (IAH) demonstration project, interest in providing in-home integrated care for high utilizers of service has continued to grow.  Participants in IAH have noted not only the high quality of care, but also the personal savings of hours on a regular basis.

As healthcare becomes more of a two-way street, investment opportunities are also increasing.

One of my management gurus, Alan Weiss, often tells his protégés:

“You can always make another dollar, but you can’t make 

another minute. True wealth is discretionary time.” 

Today’s healthcare consumers believe this and expect their healthcare providers to understand and respond to the importance of patients’ time when offering services.