At the recent Independent Healthcare Forum in London, Ali
Parsa, the CEO behind Circle,
gave his view on where the UK is missing out in the worldwide economy and what
we need to do to get back on track. His message was simple…. focus on what you
are really good at and give it 100%. His message rings true for the economy as
a whole and for the private healthcare sector in particular. “Stop preserving
the old, and create the new”.
In the recent Olympics, Team GB did better than ever before,
not just because we were on home ground. When the country won the Olympic bid,
the team behind the bid had to decide how we were going to deliver medals in
London 2012. So they looked at those
areas of sport where we are strong and invested their efforts and money in
aiming to become the dominant force in that sporting sector. Sports such as
rowing and cycling benefited. And they broke down success in that sport into
every element that could contribute to winning a medal. The British Cycling performance
director, Dave Brailsford, has described how they recruited athletes who had
the right body make up for cycling, how they invested in every aspect of the
bike’s performance, and how fitness and
performance was examined in microscopic detail.
The end result? At Atlanta 1996, Team GB won one gold medal
and came 36th in the medal table; in London 2012, Team GB won 29
gold medals and came third.
The UK has a similar challenge in the world economy. In
recent years, the country has gone backwards in the international marketplace.
We are not that far ahead of a failing Greece. So, we need to focus on what we
are good at if we want to climb back up the medal table of the world economy.
We’re really good at healthcare!
And according to Circle’s Ali Parsa, one thing this country is very good at is
healthcare. Despite the relentless media knocking of the NHS, we need to be a
bit more positive about how good we are. If you watched the recent documentary
on Great Ormond Street, you may have noticed how many of the leading
specialists featured were not British. Why is this? It’s because, if you are a
paediatrician anywhere in the world, Great Ormond Street is on your shortlist
of “places I need to work to advance my career”. The Harris
International Patient Centre at Great Ormond Street brings in over £25
million of revenue; children travel there from all over the world to be treated
because they believe it to be the best.
It is encouraging to see a new initiative to export
British healthcare abroad. A new agency will be established to link
hospitals such as Great Ormond Street with foreign governments that want access
to British-run health services Let’s hope this one gets off the ground and
doesn’t suffer the fate of NHS Global which never got out of the starting
The “Olympic” message for private healthcare providers
If we tasked the British Cycling performance director with
improving services in the private healthcare sector, how would he approach
it? The “Olympic message” for the
private healthcare sector is that if you want to be the very best at what you
do, break down the delivery of a healthcare service into each constituent part
and work to become a little bit better than your competition at every point in
So, if you’re trying to attract self-pay patients for hip
- Make your “first touch” whether it be via your
web site, email, on the phone or in print that much better than your
- If you offer a fixed price package, don’t make
it cheaper, make it more understandable, and add value to it.
- If you
offer a guarantee…… make sure the patient realises that (many don’t!).
- Make your admission process 10% slicker and 10%
more customer friendly than your competitors’ process.
- Make your post-discharge follow up and support
10% slicker and 10% more customer friendly than your competitors’. This will
not be very difficult! If there’s one significant shortcoming in the delivery
of the patient experience in the private healthcare sector. This is where it
is. It’s time to get away from the “treat them, bill them, get them out of the
door and forget about them” approach which seems to be all too common in our
Let’s learn from our Olympic success, and deliver some golds
for the UK healthcare sector to patients both here and abroad!
Date published: 19 October 2012
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