Where is the emphasis on values in Healthcare?

Aspiring students of medicine, trying to get into the UK’s best universities, will tell you that the main message they need to emphasise (and highlight in their application) is a genuine desire to care for people.

Healthcare is such an important issue, that we might imagine that all healthcare providers place a great deal on emphasis on worthy values. Selling your healthcare data to big corporations is probably not one of them. Honesty, fairness, and compassion probably rate highly on anybody’s list of values.

This subject came to the fore at a HealthTech meetup run by Palta on 6 Jun 2023. Lina Zakarauskaite from Stride VC stressed that values are the key to any HealthTech Start Up and that they need not be “written in stone” on day one. The founders will want to adapt their own values and the values of their fledgling business, so that (with input from others) a statement of values can be established soon after the founding date. By starting with a white board and an open mind, the key is to consider all inputs and achieve a reasonable consensus on what the business values should be. It’s not a unanimous vote, nor really a majority vote, it’s a team effort where the team agrees a set of values that they call all subscribe to. Google learnt this in the early days when their executive coach emphasised that you agree what is good for team, and you do what is good for the team, even if that was not your personal first choice.

Kit Logan from Avie (an exercise app which is now a part of the Holland & Barrett empire) added that early adopters are just as important as the founders’ team in shaping what the company values should be. Instead of having a fitness app which chastises you for missing a week of exercise (because you were ill or on holiday), the app needs to understand that users often have good reason for not following a regular routine. In discussion with early adopters of Avie, the founders, Kit and Charlie discovered from the users that their app was “understandable” and that this was a value which they needed to add to the Avie mission statement. They also learnt that exercise routines have to fit around other activities, notably “hair washing”. A significant percentage of users stressed that the competitor apps neglected the importance of fitting schedules around the more important activity of “washing your hair”.

Finding your niche was also important. Moving on from working as the CEO of a dating agency, Michelle Kennedy (the founder of Peanut) discovered an opening for a social network for would-be mums, expectant mums, young mums, and later mums with medical issues. Even ladies without children, who wanted to share concerns with like minded people, on issues like HRT and the menopause.

The discussion of values in Healthcare was central to the HealthTech meetup, and it ought to be equally important in any business. Even to employees, and certainly to candidates looking for a job. What values do you have? What values does the organisation have? Are they aligned? Working relationships can be very short lived when values are mismatched. Try writing down your top 5 values. What are they? Use the list here if you’re really struggling.

Anyone, in any position, in any organisation, should examine the values and then ask themselves “do I want to work on these challenges, with this team, within this organisation?”