Background: The health care system is in the midst of a market revolution, driven by cost containment but also fully charged by the idea that competition among providers will lead to reforms that neither the government nor the professions have been able to achieve by themselves. An agenda of "reports to consumers" has been advanced as a bright new hope for improving the health care system. An alternative to this notion of consumerism is far broader--that is the concept of total relationship.
The bandwidth of total relationship: In the hands of masters outside the health care domain, the total customer relationship embraces several elements that can be imported into health care and that offer more promise than "report cards," including the following: Customers as assistants in decreasing waste; Mass customization and stratification of need; Shaping demand; Immediate recovery; Delight as the objective; and Customer knowledge and innovation. A CREDO: The next phase of development of total customer relationship might well be guided by a credo including several tenets about the wisdom of those the health care system serves and the nature of its purpose: 1. In a helping profession, the ultimate judge of performance is the person helped. 2. Most people, including sick people, are reasonable most of the time. 3. Different people have different, legitimate needs. 4. Pain and fear produce anxiety in both the victim and the helper. 5. Meeting needs without waste is a strategic and moral imperative.