The Big idea: a new type of healthcare companyPosted: 28 Jan 2013
Patient choice is an award-winning social enterprise and the brainchild of RSA Fellow, Neil Basil. It is a new kind of healthcare company, designed to disrupt an old fashioned and monopolised market by providing an impartial and transparent prescription home delivery service for medical appliances. Patient Choice's USP is that it is patient-centred and cost-effective - and donates any profits to charity.
Neil established Patient Choice following years of experience as a patient receiving products from various home delivery companies, and deciding that more could be done to improve the quality of service for end users. His ambition is that patients should receive higher quality and more transparent care, especially from stoma manufacturers, who are often focused on influencing product usage in order to maximise profits. In the past, patients have been restricted in their choice of products and services through long established market dynamics such as company sponsorship of hospital nurses - a practice virtually unseen in any other areas of the NHS.
Specialising in ostomy and urology products, the company is unique by being not-for-profit, meaning there is no commercial motivation to push any particular product, or to use more products than are needed. As Neil sums up the role of Patient Choice in today’s healthcare system, "A major flaw in healthcare is that providers get paid more for providing a greater volume of increasingly expensive products. Patient Choice is an opportunity to reverse that principle, and create a trustworthy and transparent model that works more in the best interests of patients."
Established as a true social enterprise, the profits generated by the company are donated to charity through the Patient Choice Foundation, a grant-making charity. Specifically, healthcare and patient support charities are the focus of such charitable donations, a way of reinvesting much needed money into the healthcare system, and especially at a time of financial hardship which has directly affected charitable giving. In its first year of trading Patient Choice has donated £40,000 to charitable causes.
The Underwear & Swimwear Show (shown above) was one of the causes to recieve funds; a show which promotes a positive attitude towards stomas both for those living with one and the general public. Patient Choice helped fund the future of the event, enabling patients from all backgrounds to attend and be inspired by this world class project.
Neil is one of the social entrepreneurs in the RSA's Social Enterprise Spotlight project, a case-study of nine social enterprises over the course of a year, looking at their challenges, successes, expertise and what practical advice can help them succeed. This has included looking at sales, leadership as a social entrepreneur and branding and culture, which was the focus of the latest event a few weeks ago. Find out what happened at the event. Being on Spotlight has helped Neil in a number of ways - "it's invaluable meeting with like minded social entrepreneurs following the same journey, encountering similar challenges and learning from each other’s experience."
The next steps for Patient Choice are to raise awareness amongst patients that they have choices relating to the care and services they receive, and to increase the customer base to gain traction in the market. Neil then plans to use Patient Choice to support a wider range of projects and medical conditions, proving that a healthcare company can benefit patients in more ways than just their basic product offering.
Neil is keen to hear from anyone working within healthcare and interested in growing the reach of Patient Choice, and organisations or projects that could benefit from partnerships or funding from the Patient Choice Foundation. Find out more about Patient Choice on their website or contact Neil by email.