Here in the UK, the National Health Service is something of which many of us are justifiably proud. Regardless of age, race, nationality or social status, we are entitled to free healthcare and can undergo surgical procedures that would represent significant financial obstacles elsewhere in the world. The NHS, however, is not wholly lauded in all quarters. There are many people who view the NHS as an antiquated socialist relic, and suggest that ‘free healthcare’ equates to ‘poor healthcare.’ Do their criticisms have value, and are there areas in which the NHS can improve? Whatever the case, it’s crucial that we continue to support healthcare research and undertake studies and audits that can improve the quality of our care where possible.
Criticisms of our approach
In the US, there is no such thing as a National Health Service. For generations, Americans have relied on health insurance to cover life’s medical emergencies and pay for treatments we would receive free here in the UK. Rather than lament the fact that they are unable to take advantage of free healthcare, however, many US citizens believe that they receive a far higher quality of care as a direct result of their private healthcare service. Some Americans see NHS hospitals and healthcare facilities as unhygienic, understaffed organisations that require long waiting times and subject their patients to poor overall care procedures. The US capitalist society logically extends to healthcare, with those prepared to pay more able to enjoy the spoils of their greater wealth.
Free healthcare for all
One of the greatest merits of the NHS is that it is not exclusive. With free healthcare available to all, anyone of any means can receive treatment without having to worry about how much it could cost them. Inevitably, countries such as the United States where healthcare is a paid-for service can often be accused of overlooking their poorest citizens. Such discrepancies have been addressed in part over recent years through measures such as ‘Obamacare,’ but these measures often point at a deeper underlying malaise in paid-for healthcare. If care is unaffordable for some, something must be deeply wrong with the current system.
Room for improvement
Despite this, there are areas in which the NHS can learn from the healthcare systems of the USA and countries like it. We can be proud of the NHS and recognise the positive aspects of offering free healthcare to all, whilst simultaneously being able to identify the areas where we can improve. Many of the criticisms of the NHS – that it is understaffed, underfunded, slow and in need of refreshing – are valid in some ways, so perhaps looking at the successes of other contrasting systems will give us an indication of how we can make changes for the better in future.
Data research can tell us which areas of the NHS are working well and which are struggling. Patient satisfaction surveys, internal audits and research are important tools in bringing the NHS into the 21st century; we need to work hard to digitise our existing process and bring higher quality care to more patients across the country. If you’re looking to improve the quality of care and efficiency of process in your healthcare organisation this year, take a look at our range of automated healthcare data capture services or contact us to learn how we can help in more detail.