You’ve been to a hospital, probably because you had some serious health business with it. The common circumstances under which you visit hospitals are when you, or someone you know needs medical attention; so you visit the hospital with a definitive objective: manage sickness, get medication and visit/accompany a sick person. Do you ever get beyond your immediate health concern, and understand what a hospital really is?
There is a generalized impression of a hospital held by many: Still buildings, with plain colored walls and distinguished health workers. Doctors and nurses wear lab coats, or professional uniforms that make them stand out as gods of the place. From a distance the hospital looks calm and quiet. On getting closer, within the building, reality meets you: the smell of medicine, presence of ailing people-silent or wailing, serious-looking health workers, anxious relatives and friends.
The imagery of a hospital is a place of hope, where sickness is healed and pain relieved. It’s a place of comfort when you are suffering. It is a salvation in case of an emergency or accident. And yet still, a hospital is not that fanciest place one would think of. It has a somber mood associated with pain and suffering. Beyond sickness and treatment, public health and as a trained health professional, I have come to see a new face of the hospital environment, which I would love to share.
A hospital is more or less like many other organizations. It has human workers, and provides products and services. It’s got management, guided by policy and organizational ethics. I see a hospital from three senses: business sense, economic sense and knowledge sense.
The business sense of a hospital is the balance between income and expenditure. The management of a hospital ensures a proper balance between its incomes and expenditures. Incomes for a hospital include insurance premiums claimed on behalf of patients, bills paid directly paid as a result of providing health services and products, and donations. Expenses for a hospital involve purchase of medical products and equipment required, payment of health workers and payment of hospital management. Some hospitals spend some of their monies on researches too, and waiver of medical fees for patients unable to meet the costs. At the end of the day, a hospital needs a balance between its income and expenditure, which then translated to profit/loss for the hospital institution (hence business sense)
My perspective of the economic sense of a hospital is the macro economic sense – the significance of a hospital to a people. A hospital institution supports the productivity of local workers in companies and organizations – through managing the health of ill workers, and promoting health and wellness. The syringes, gloves, pharmaceutical products biomedical equipment, e.t.c. are medical consumables purchased from companies and institutions. These institutions and companies have workers paid to produce and supply consumables of a hospital. Public health extends a multidisciplinary service for the benefit of the public. For instance, policies sensitive to the health needs of a people are best formulated through involving public health specialists. Public awareness on health and wellness is done to maintain health and promote life. There are more examples, but I believe these given here promote us to appreciate hospitals.
Knowledge sense in the context of a hospital involves a wide array of data. Some data takes the form of health records, while other data comes about as a result of health research. Health workers are called health workers because they are trained and imparted with health knowledge. Health knowledge is one of the widest and deepest kind of information I have ever come across. That’s why students spend so many years in school learning before they can practice their knowledge on fellow humans. The knowledge sense in health is useful because it aids in decision making in the interest of a population, promotion of awareness on healthy practices, informs manufacturers to make better health products and health education systems on what relevant knowledge, skill and service value to impart on medical students.
In general, that’s how I see a hospital. I am trained to be a health worker, hence my interest in understanding what a hospital really is. Many thanks for reading this post. I shall be posting another article next week, probably something else away from the medical world. See you then!