Rethinking Healthcare Delivery for Private Sector

By Mike Wilkinson

We have a problem in the UK. We are conditioned to the concept of being rationed when it comes to healthcare. Demand is overwhelming and the system puts in place various methods of inertia to manage the availability of supply, which has conditioned the consumer that healthcare is effectively rationed. It reminds me a bit of when my parents first got a telephone in their home. You couldn’t simply go to BT and get one installed; you had to go on a waiting list and await your turn for installation. Demand had outstripped supply and BT managed the delivery of the service for years with the consumer conditioned to the concept of telephone rationing. So it is with healthcare in the UK.

I was recently chatting to the CEO of a private healthcare company about this issue and they bemoaned the fact that one of their biggest challenges is overcoming this learned behaviour in the UK. Additionally, when doing some secret shopping in the UK private healthcare market, I was shocked to see how the private sector still reverts to the NHS primary care system for their referrals. In my old world this would be tantamount to customer journey suicide as you effectively pass your private customer back into a channel that could route them away to a competitor.

This is where telehealth for primary care could be useful. Consider my past experience as an example. I’m a private patient and I needed to be treated for a rib injury. The private sector wouldn’t look at me until I had a primary care referral. So why doesn’t the private sector bypass that step altogether by supplying a network of GPs that you can quickly connect to for a private consultation? You are then passed into the secondary care system quickly and gain access to the care you need.

You have a customer that has recognised this gap in the market and is solving it, (albeit on a small scale) but the time is fast approaching where the private sector could start to process patients quickly without the need to go through the often painful UK primary healthcare system.