I was recently reading an article on one of Australia’s youngest entrepreneurs, Master William Grames, who at 11 years of age has invented the world’s first Diabetes test strip disposal unit. As a sufferer of Type 1 diabetes himself, William clearly had a user perspective in developing this kit that allows his teachers and classmates not to have to worry about accidently touching strips with blood on them. As a typical 11-year old, William is planning to purchase a Lamborghini and chauffeur with his first million as clearly he is too young to drive himself.
This article and invention were interesting on many levels and not just because of William’s age (although I am somewhat intimidated by an 11-year old CEO when I thought being just the other side of 40 and CEO was reasonably impressive) but because it highlighted the importance of consumer engagement.
Health services deliver care to millions of people each year but I would challenge every provider to have the courage to say that every decision they make is from a user perspective. “Impossible” you say, as sometimes we have to make decisions about services that consumers won’t understand. Really? I struggle to believe that someone wouldn’t understand you can’t provide a particular service anymore because the need in the community has changed or that it is now a question of clinical safety to provide it in an ad hoc manner. As a consumer of healthcare services myself, I don’t think I would take issue with a decision when it is explained in a rationale manner and one that has my safety and quality of care at the heart of the decision. In healthcare, we struggle at times to stop thinking about professional agendas, personal agendas and financial agendas. However, that said, many hard decisions have been made in healthcare that are unfairly linked to these reasons when actually they are closer aligned to the safety and quality agenda.
Healthcare needs to really engage with consumers in many of the decisions we make, not just in their own healthcare delivery but how we deliver and change services. If an 11-year old boy can invent a user orientated product, surely the millions of consumers that pass through the doors of a hospital or health service collectively could reform our healthcare for the better.
Change is inevitable… How we can do it is infinite!!!