Healthcare is about discomfort
Part one of our series Healthcare from First Principles
We look forward to visiting family and friends, going shopping, or watching a movie. We dream about houses, cars, wedding parties, and trips. Healthcare is not something we long for.
There is no pleasure sparked by healthcare, there is no desirable reason to keep coming back to it. In fact, if healthcare is to work really well, it is by quickly repairing an undesirable state and then fading away. Even better is to not need any healthcare in the first place.
Discomfort, not desire
Let’s acknowledge it. Nobody wakes up and think to themselves, “Oh, I miss visiting my doctor, I should go there soon,” nor would they say, “It’s been a while since I have been to the hospital, I should add that to my bucket list for this year.”
We look forward to visiting family and friends, going shopping, watching a movie. We dream about houses, cars, wedding parties, and trips. But healthcare is not something we long for.
As a general rule, feeling of discomfort must exist for a patient to seek out a healthcare professional or institution. Discomfort as a trigger for healthcare can be understood in two manners, the patient either is experiencing an actual tangible discomfort — like pain, disability, and mental health issues — or fears the chance of tangible discomforts in the future.
In fact, the reasons anyone buys healthcare are either to restore the well-functioning of their mind and body or to get “peace of mind” (that one is protected against negative events that could happen down the road).
Scheduling preventative visits, for example, can be seen as a deliberate action to avoid future discomfort, and thus get some peace of mind now. Going into the ER for a surgery after a car accident aims, of course, to restore the well-functioning of mind and body.
Contrast, again, our purchase intentions in healthcare with what is observed in most other industries we consume. Since there is no pleasure associated with healthcare (only the opposite), there is no desirable reason to keep coming back to it.
If healthcare works properly, it is supposed to repair the undesirable disease state quickly and then vanish. In fact, healthcare that works perfectly well is healthcare that is not needed at all.
Healthcare from First Principles
Series about the fundamental reasons why healthcare systems are so convoluted, and why that is unlikely to change in the near future:
- Healthcare is about discomfort · Here
- The two most fundamental facts in Healthcare · Next
- The difficulties patients face
- The roles of physicians and health insurers