Universal Health Language

When I go to the general practitioner with problems, I always ask myself three things:

1. What is the exact problem?
2. What can the general practitioner do to help me with my problems?
3. Will I be redirected to the hospital?

Usually, the general practitioner can provide me with an answer to the first question and provide a solution on the second question. However sometimes the general practitioner does not know the solution or is not able to give me the answer and will forward me to the hospital. Before I start with the topic of this blog, I will first briefly discuss the concept of services, followed by the subject of this blog.

What is a service?

A service is characterized on the basis of the following four characteristics:
1. a service is heterogeneous;
2. a service is intangible;
3. a service is transitory;
4. a service is an interactive consumption.

When we retrace these characteristics it means that healthcare is a form of service.

E.G. I visit a general practitioner, my interpretation is different than my neighbor’s interpretation who visits the same general practitioner. But what if I do not show up for the appointment with the general practitioner? It would mean that the service will be canceled and therefore does not take place. Furthermore, I need to know my role as a patient, this is the same for the general practitioner who takes its role. If this does not happen we may create confusion.

Why I’m blogging this?

From the perspective of a Dutch citizen the healthcare is very complex in the Netherlands and I would like to know if the Netherlands is the only country who has these issues. The confusion occurs when whether the patient or the general practitioner does not know his or her role as well as it should. The next example shows how important it is to know your role.

I went to the general practitioner, I told him my problem and he stared at me like something is wrong.  He was afraid to tell me what was wrong due to the fact that there exists a line when a general practitioner cannot help and will refer me to the hospital. My personal role was to stay calm and let the general practitioner speak. But how the hell could I not freak out, I saw the serious problem in his eyes. When I calmed down he told me it is very serious, “I cannot help you but you can’t go home now I will call an ambulance!”, “Please stay calm and everything will be all fine!”

At this point the general practitioner might already left his role. From that moment I lost my role as well and questions started to rise up. Am I dying? Will I be fine when you just call an ambulance for me? What is the exact problem? To which hospital will I be transported?  Can I call my family and friends? When you transport me by ambulance who is responsible for the payment? How about my insurance?

The whole idea of being in a role and losing this role, is happening at that moment. A patient is panicking at that moment and the general practitioner does not know how to deal with this problem. He is a general practitioner and the borders of his job are already reached. So he will act like how he learned it: “stay calm and everything will be alright” or “I’m sorry I can’t answer your questions but the doctor in the hospital can answer those questions”.

But how would it be if the patient could prepare for what is about to come. The Internet provides many different answers about these problems. It might be an idea to build an application that can answer all these questions with the correct information. The patient or the general practitioner could perform their role better and there would exist less confusion. To build an application from the point of view of the patient. Many health providers have their own data within the health system and communicate to other health providers in their own language. The data from communicate as well as data from research or general information is usable to provide the patients the information they need. It will not be the first time that a patient will be referred to many different people without having progress in their knowledge of the problem. This all because the doctors or other health providers haven’t the time or specialism to answer your questions.

From the perspective of a Dutch citizen the healthcare is very complex in the Netherlands. After reading this i would like to hear from you if you also experience the same problem in your country?



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