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Healthcare is about discomfort

December 2018

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”, and 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 interact with 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 a tangible discomfort 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 discomfort, and thus get a “peace of mind”. 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, the 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. If it were to do its job really well, then it would be less needed.


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