When it comes to providing adequate care for the users of the health system, it is essential to know the profile of the people who demand health care.

People who go to health professionals are increasingly trained and informed, they are more demanding and with the increase in the standard of living and the changes that this produces in the demand for other products and services, it ends up determining a change equally for what you expect to obtain when you go to health centres and therefore, you are going to demand.

On a general level, marketing experts identify different social groups when it comes to demanding products and services in a market of any kind:

– Those who will «consume» all the services we provide.

– Those who «will consume all the services we provide them with in the public system and will turn to the private system.

– Potential users of the health system, but for whatever reason, do not use the public health service or the private health network.

– Those who do not attend frequently, but with their positioning can have an important influence on how the services are provided.

– Prescribing users will be those who, knowing all that we can do for them, with their attitude will achieve one or another service from us and from the environment.

– Opinion leaders. Generally speaking, they are leaders of the community, the area, the neighbourhood, the city, and with their influence they position the users of the health system in a fundamental way. These types of people manage to make different social strata aware in one direction or another of our service provision.

Types of users 

If we take advantage of the teachings of other disciplines such as marketing, health professionals will be able to understand how in the current market the emphasis is placed on the relationship with the user, that is, the loyalty and trust for the service. It is relationship marketing and its understanding that will help us to establish the best relationship between the users of the health system and the professionals who provide the service. Knowing our users better makes it easier to satisfy both their perceived health needs and the satisfaction of their different expectations.

The opposing user. This will be the type of public health system user who is always looking for alternatives to our health care, to each of the therapeutic and care alternatives that we propose. They tend to be dissatisfied with both the service and the way it is provided, the places where the service is provided, the physical conditions of the place, the behaviour of the professional, etc. This user is a potential generator of negative publicity which can destroy health plans and strategies such as vaccination campaigns or other plans ranging from health education to the application of treatments, including prevention and health promotion.

The mercenary user. This will be the person who, even though he knows that we can really provide the best service, will enter and leave the public health system based on personal interests. Knowing their interests and motivations will be the key to understanding how they will act and thus trying to build up this type of user’s loyalty, under the conviction that this type of attitude interferes with therapeutic adherence to treatment and care. Potentially, they will be able to speak well or badly of our care depending on their own interests, although they usually prefer to go unnoticed, with low involvement, and therefore are not usually interested in giving their opinion on the type of care and quality of care.

The captive user. This is the type of user who is permanently dissatisfied with the service provided. This is a user profile that shows itself in this attitude regardless of the effort made by professionals to make him/her satisfied, and it is also independent of the health results obtained by the user. However, due to their characteristics, standard of living and motivations, they cannot change services by going to the private health network or private insurance, since they cannot access them because of the price. He is often ill-tempered and vindictive without a specific reason, speaks ill of care and, in addition, always shows opposition and resistance to the different options he is shown. Always past options and past service providers are better than the current portfolio of professionals.

The prescribing user. This is a user profile to whom all our actions and therapeutic and care alternatives seem appropriate, they are loyal, they show high degrees of satisfaction, they seek the friendship and trust of the health professionals, as this trust keeps them in the belief that they will get the best possible care. From the point of view of greater care for health organisations, this type of user is key, as it will be a source of positive publicity necessary at times when greater penetration of our activity is required, such as vaccination campaigns, screening for pathologies aimed at prevention, etc. Both care professionals and managers must remain attentive to this type of client as a good strategic complement to our key processes.

The value of the user

When we go to the opinion about the health system there is often some confusion, because of the different messages that are given, which sometimes turn out to be contradictory. On the one hand, we are transmitting that in the public health system all users are equal, regardless of their health condition and needs. On the other hand, through different campaigns we are transmitting to the population that users of the health system must be segmented by pathologies and needs which are more important than others. These campaigns are based on the scarcity of resources and the need to optimise existing ones, where the health good becomes a pure public good and a rival public good.

This feeling of different expectations will generate high doses of frustration that will lead to the search for those responsible for the potential dissatisfaction of their needs, which can lead to the failure of therapeutic strategies.

The first action to be taken will be to strengthen communication, as this is the pillar that fundamentally facilitates user loyalty and eliminates the possibility of contradictions. Thus, when we talk about the fact that for the health system all clients are the same and that we work for everyone equally, we must insist on the different social and economic impact of each of the different pathologies. Professionals must be reliable, warm in their care and capable of consuming resources cost-effectively.

Next, we must distinguish between two aspects such as the value of each of our users and the profitability of each therapeutic action. Health services should segment each user according to the profitability of the actions and their social impact, sending a clear and co-responsible message to each of these segments, understanding that intrasegment behaviour influences the population at a global level.

Health system users must be considered individually and as part of a specific health segment with specific needs. Future-oriented health care requires something more, which is nothing more than the contemplation and consideration of the user of the health system in all its magnitude, taking into account all spheres of his or her self.

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