The concept of a health service must understand what the wishes and needs of the patients are, i.e. put the needs of the patients at the centre. A medical diagnosis alone does not determine the health service to be provided because this diagnosis indicates exactly a need for cure, improvement or rehabilitation. In itself, this vision is not wrong, but it lacks the different perspectives that are necessary to obtain a real success in our purpose. These other perspectives that must be incorporated constitute different ways of relating to patients and induce the incorporation of greater added value to the health-disease process. It is therefore necessary to understand the concept of service as only in this way will we understand what is demanded of us and what the strategic intentions of the health organisation should be.
The strategic decisions are integrated into the organisation’s plan of intentions and everything it wishes to provide to patients and must consider four different aspects:
Conceptualisation of strategy and technology
Technology is undoubtedly one of the fundamental aspects of any of the activities carried out in health organisations. This is logical in itself, since the improvements that have taken place in health and the prognosis of illnesses are linked to the continuous advances that are made in the field of technology, making it the key element, on many occasions, of the health process and the service provided.
This use of technology places the health sector on the same level as the rest of the productive sectors and therefore, requires an adequate strategic process, since technology is used as a means to gain quality service for the value it has for our patients.
However, any health marketing strategy should not be based on technological aspects since, according to different studies, the quality of service is linked to the world of perceptions, which go beyond pure health results. Aspects linked to satisfaction are: treatment, type of care, etc. This does not mean that technological solutions lose value, but rather that they must be considered together with the different aspects that must be offered.
The ultimate aim of developing a strategy in service provision is to improve patient relations and perceived service quality. This implies incorporating into the process different elements that make the offer to the patient generate an added value to the health care provided.
Focusing on a service strategy does not mean that the technical and technological aspects and the solutions they provide lose value. It is true that in order to offer a better service, all direct and indirect relationships with patients must be incorporated. Any type of healthcare provided generates relationships with patients. If these relationships are adequate, there will be an exponential increase in added value. A patient expects that the different technical applications which are going to be carried out in the health process, extractions, radiologies, etc., will be carried out in the shortest time possible. Therefore, when the process of providing the patient with the service begins, all these technical services are provided.
An image strategy incorporates the patient’s vision of the healthcare organisation, what the patient thinks of our hospital, of our unit, of our healthcare organisation in general. But it does not only refer to this, it also refers to all that which is also part of health care, such as advertising campaigns for promotion, health prevention. For example, the types of channels used to disseminate healthy living habits, images, music, etc. It is also part of the satisfaction of the health process, the clothing of the staff, the appearance, the colours of the walls of the rooms, corridors, waiting rooms, the use of light and heating, music, the provision of access to the network, leaflets, the appearance of furniture, beds, cupboards, food trays, etc.
All of this forms part of service satisfaction and determines key aspects of the operation and characteristics of our health organisation. This determines that we must develop an adequate strategic process.
Cost and price strategy
From the point of view of the public health sector, it may be, or at least we feel, a less relevant strategy when designing the provision of health services. However, the ability to offer the best therapeutic alternative at the lowest possible cost is not negligible. In the case of the public sector this not only influences the patient individually, but also influences society as a potential client of health services.
We should not forget either that the ability to provide health services at a lower cost implies the ability to increase future investment in the provision of services.
It is true that not all costs are economic, for example, how much is the patient’s pain worth, how much is the patient’s time until diagnosis worth? Of course, a delay in the quality of the service provided or a delay in time has a high cost in terms of human resources that must be planned and included in the health service provision strategy.