What We Mean When We Say Value


Origin: Valere (Latin) to Valoir (Old French) to Value (Middle English) Noun: Value; Plural Noun: Values

Definition: A person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.

It can be so hard sometimes to hear universal truths above the din of narrow interests. So let’s find a space of quiet reflection to stipulate this. No matter our kin or creed, our genealogy or geography, our identity or ideology, we all want a breath, and another, and another after that. We are all greedy of life, hanging onto life like misers, only letting life leave our grasp after our battle to acquire more of it comes to its inevitable end. Of all the resources in the universe, the drive to acquire more life is perhaps the most common and the most infinite resource, one which all of existence suckles upon to sustain itself.

While often our actions may convey a belief that life is cheap, deep down we all know it is incredibly not. Life is expensive. Maintaining life is expensive. Helping others to maintain life is incredibly expensive. The icy, gleaming reality of this truth doesn’t make the need for designing effective systems to maintain life, to care for our health, any easier, but embracing that reality should sharpen the mind a little bit, a cold hand on your back shocking you to rise up, a frigid gust of wind against your face that makes you strengthen your gait.


Definition: The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something, the material or monetary worth of something, the worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it.

Find me a county or country, a group or government, that has figured out how to effectively resource and manage the delivery of healthcare without trade-offs, or without decisions about inclusion and exclusion, proper procedure and extraordinary excess. I will not hold my breath waiting. That place only exists in our collective imaginations, a yellow-stained miasma, a nostalgia back to easier circumstances and ample agency. That place does not exist today, and does not exist in the real world.

Just as importantly, this collective fiction that we can live any way we want to, consume healthcare products and services with the same attitude we do with paper towels and garbage bags, and expect someone else, somewhere else, to pay for it, is a fiction consuming more and more of us, of our hearts and our minds, of our collective civility towards a shared commons, of the entire globe’s GDP. We must all wake up from this collective dream. WE MUST WAKE UP.


Verb: Value; 3rd Person Present: Values; Past Tense: Valued; Past Participle: Valued; Gerund or Present Participle: Valuing

Definition: Consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.

Listen again to that space of quiet reflection. Once again, let’s find agreement in our shared love of breath. Now let’s agree that:

  • Healthcare patients hope to receive safe, efficiently organized care, throughout their entire life, and that their providers will protect the intimate, valuable, and ever increasing data that they share with their providers from theft.  Patients want to be able to afford effective healthcare services, and seek guidance from providers, peers and other professionals on how to change behavior that negatively affects their health and the portion of their income spent acquiring healthcare services.
  • Healthcare providers expect that the processes and technologies they use to enhance, rather than hinder, their ability to diagnose and deliver care to their patients and desire processes and technologies that respect their clinical expertise, time and workflow.  They desire recognition for their important leadership roles in patient-centered care teams, working to affect positive change in their patients’ health and expect to be paid for their services accurately.
  • Healthcare executives expect the investments they are accountable for to provide clinical, operational, or financial returns for their organizations and want to increase the value of their organization’s data by using it to analyze and improve their care delivery processes.  They need technology to support, not hinder, their ability to protect the organization’s reputation, sustainability and position in the community.
  • Healthcare product & service developers expect to be able to provide their clients with a positive user experience that supports the delivery of care.  They want to engage in long-term, value-generating relationships with their customers.  They want clear signals from the public and market on most effective products and services they can produce profitably.  They desire respect for own important role in care delivery.
  • The public and its representatives expect the investments they have made in the healthcare industry and for the implementation of digital health in particular to lead to better, efficient, safer care.  The public desires a design for a country’s healthcare system that increases their access to care and lower costs for the care they receive.


Definition: Estimate the monetary worth of (something).


It may be easy to agree about a group of words describing the desires of the diverse group of stakeholders who make up healthcare systems all over the world.  While life may not be cheap, talk sure is.  The real measure of any person, any people, any society, is in the action they take.  In showing up, extending a helping hand rather than a closed fist. In engaging our universal love of breathe-through actions that support the acquisition of that next breath, and the one after that. In honestly accounting for the enormous costs associated with maintaining life.  Listen to yourself once more in that space of quiet reflection.  Then get up. And act. 


Learn more about the value of health IT on our newly revamped Value Suite website.