What has a Caveman got to do with Healthcare?

Throughout my career in health and social care, there has been a constant (not always) unsaid friction between the public and private sector. The perception seemed to be that the private sector needs to make a profit in order to survive and as such must in some way must be less ethical or concerned for patient care. Whereas the public sector is funded by government and therefore can only be motivated by the best interests of the patient.  “Selling” makes an interaction less valued.  The public and third sectors do not sell and therefore must have a higher moral code……..but is this true?

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Ever since the first caveman exchanged a good spearhead for some food, selling has been part of a functioning society.  It may be called exchange, barter or negotiation, but the basic function of persuading another person to behave in a manner we want is a basic human behaviour.  Who hasn’t got their partner to make them a drink or let the cat out because they were comfortable on the sofa and have “sold” the reason why the other person is much better placed to do it? Whatever product or service is exchanged during this transaction is completely down to the individual.

Those employed by commercial organisation have to be aware of the potential sale, throughout all their transactions, but still remain patient focussed and motivated by a wish to improve the wellbeing of other – otherwise why chose to work in healthcare? Those who work in the public sector firstly did a great sales job to get the position in the first place, presenting their skills and qualifications in writing and in person in order to persuade their organisation to employ them.  They then spend the rest of their lives selling to patients – the benefits of adhering to their treatment regime, the health improvements from lifestyle changes, the reasons for having surgery…..the list is endless. Patient goals would not be achieved unless a good sales job was done.

Over recent years I have begun to sense a change in attitudes between the public and private sectors.  As healthcare faces more financial challenges, and all providers now survive within competitive environments, partnerships are developing and building through mutual respect and understanding. I was always told that selling is more about listening than talking, and there has been a lot more listening happening lately.  We are also all talking, persuading, selling and interacting which can only be good for patients.  As the structure of healthcare resettles into place, the biggest changes, in attitudes are still taking place, but great things will come of it.