Imagine what a primary care service might look like if we gave the patients the money and asked them to design it themselves. This was the story I heard recently at a presentation given by the Southcentral Foundation, a citizen-owned health-service provider based in Anchorage, Alaska.
The presentation was at a recent event in Cardiff looking at Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka system of primary care. It’s ‘A customer-owner driven overhaul of a bureaucratic system centrally controlled, to one in which the local people are in control.’ It is the use of this term customer-owner which is one of the most striking features of the Nuka system.
The idea of a patient as a customer might feel wrong in the context of the NHS, but in this case the term represented a shift from a service designed around a medical model to one where the patient’s needs were put first. The provocative question for us is, if we considered patients as customers would that improve the experience of being a patient in NHS Wales?