When a medical professional says or uses the word “patient”, we automatically know what is meant by that word. For those in the medical tourism industry, a patient is also a client, because they are buying your services as a medical tourism facilitator to provide them with medical care they either cannot afford at home, or that is unavailable. But how do those in other industries refer to persons receiving medical care or treatment in their line of work?
For the workers’ compensation industry, that question was answered recently by David De Paolo, president of WorkCompCentral, the leading news and education content resource to the workers’ compensation industry. In his blog, De Paolo mused on the usage of the terms, “claimant” and “injured worker”, both accurate and valid words meaning the same thing, but devoid of any personal relationship to the person receiving medical care.
But for De Paolo, the fact that many workers’ compensation industry service providers, such as adjusters, attorneys and physicians, use the words “claimant” or “injured worker” to describe what others call “patients”, leads to a dehumanization, which even he acknowledges doing, and in point of fact, I too have done in my previous posts from time to time, but in reality they are “patients”, and therefore human beings who are not always treated as such by a bureaucracy like the US workers’ compensation system.
However, for medical tourism industry personnel, such dehumanization is bad for business and since their reputations are built upon personalized service to their clients (i.e., patients), the use of any other word is unthinkable. But should medical tourism ever gain a foothold in the workers’ compensation arena, the danger of falling into the trap of using the same language as that industry’s professionals, must be recognized and guarded against.
No doubt in such a scenario, an employer or insurance company representative will refer to “Mr. Smith” as the “injured worker” or as the “claimant”, and it must not be forgotten by the medical tourism professional that this is a human being and not a claim number or an employee number. One of the most salient features of medical tourism is the personalized service and attention to detail that most facilitators pride themselves on providing. It would be a shame for that personalized service to be tarnished by the improper, or should I say, alternative meaning of the word, “patient” others are so readily conditioned to use in the same instance.
Call this a musing on a musing.