In this article, Don Grocott, Director of The Private Patients' Forum (PPF) discusses how strategic changes to the private healthcare market can benefit the patient, or 'user' in the coming years.
The PPF was established in 2010 and is the only organisation acting as the advocate for private patients in the UK. “Looking out for you” is why we exist. Since our inception, we have become well known within the sector and have shown ourselves to be robustly independent, engaging in multiple activities with the aim of bringing the user’s view to the top of the sector’s agenda.
Private patients need more than this. The private healthcare market is, and will be undergoing significant change in the coming years. These dynamics will require that all players in the sector constantly reassess their plans and position. Our passion to be more effective is reflected in our ambitious, yet simple plans for further development - always with an unconditional focus on the users of private healthcare. We prefer the term user. It is more inclusive and less elitist. A ‘user’ to us is anyone who is actively using private health services (even if only for a one-off self pay consultation) or may consider doing so in future.
Our strategy for maintaining our position and delivering on our purpose over the next 3 years is very simple:
1. Be the User champion
We will continue to develop our advocacy role but we can only do this by getting a deeper understanding of the “user view”. It is important to note that our work is not about gathering and measuring patient experience - this is already done by providers and payers. We will go beyond this by commissioning and publishing consumer research on how users are engaging with private healthcare, what makes engaging difficult (or easy) and what specific needs and preferences users have. Via these insights we can provide information that will help users make more informed choices. Our advocacy activities will include campaigning on things that matter to users.
2. Assert independence and impartiality
Our funding model remains on a membership/subscription basis but has been diversified so that our funding comes from outside the private healthcare sector. We are engaging corporate members in this respect since they represent vast communities of current and potential users of private healthcare. Asserting our independence and impartiality in this way will be a good thing for users in knowing that they have an independent source of information and that, amidst the often-confusing healthcare system, someone is looking out for them.
3. Think collaboratively
Collaborating with others, both from inside and outside of the private healthcare sector will allow us to extend our reach and influence. It will be a key part of how we fulfill our purpose. This means that we only need a small, core team giving us the flexibility and adaptability needed in an ever-changing environment and being able to pass on these benefits to our members. We will augment our core team with patient leaders who go beyond tokenistic representatives or advisors but people with lived experience who have the skills to influence the health system [interested readers might like to read more "The rise of the patient leader" (HSJ, Sept 2012).
We are currently seeking transitional in-sector funding that will allow us to advance the plans outlined here. Our current engagement shows us that, from that position, the longer term out-of-sector funding can be attracted.
We are very keen to hear from organisations outside the private healthcare sector who would like more information. We include Health Tech B2C providers who see synergy with PPF’s work and, of course, from any in-sector players looking to share ideas that will help to build our profile as well as that of the very important private healthcare sector.
About the author
Don Grocott came into the private healthcare sector as director of the Private Patients’ Forum with personal experience as a patient and a background in medical devices and the third sector. Starting in marketing with Procter & Gamble and with a career in consumer-related businesses, he believes that customers (patients) are central to successful business.
Don has spent a significant part of his career in trade and representative bodies always with the aim of getting greater cohesion and effectiveness. He was the founding chairman of the Optical Confederation, a president of the European Contact Lens Manufacturers Federation (Euromcontact) as well as founding chairman of a public awareness organisation in optics.