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Semantics, or something a little bit deeper? Keeping the 'care' in healthcare

By | June 2 nd,  2011 | Blog | Add A Comment

"Healthcare" vs. "health care." What do you think of when you see these terms side by side? For former UnitedHealth Group senior executive Archelle Georgiou, M.D., now a consultant and a commentator on Fox9News in Minneapolis, the distinction between the words kept her up at night, so much so that she says she plans to change the tagline of her consulting firm so that "health care" becomes two words.


In a thought-provoking blog post at "Archelle on Health," she suggests an experiment. Write the words "Healthcare is important" on a sheet of paper, and ask a few people to describe what "healthcare" means.


"What is the first thing they say?" she writes. "Most likely, they refer to insurance, access, costs, and/or health reform. Do any even refer to the quality of care that they receive from doctors or other care providers? Do they refer to the importance of their own lifestyle behaviors? Probably not."


So Georgiou is changing her usage. "Healthcare," she says, evokes the system and the industry -- not wellness, not humanness.


Georgiou gives us a great reminder about the nature of our work as our organizations grow more complex by the day. The truth is, we need both "healthcare" and "health care." We can't turn back the clock to a simpler time, but we can make sure that we as leaders and organizations keep dignity and empathy in the forefront of some very tough decisions we have before us as an industry and a nation.


What about you? Does a simple space between words affect how you view your place as a leader? How does "care" shape your decisions? What conscious choices have you made with these types of values in mind?

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