The World Economic Forum (WEF) has initiated a project whose objective is “the recalibration of global healthcare systems towards value — that is, delivering outcomes that matter to patients at a sustainable cost”.

The report focuses on the unsustainable monetary pressures faced by health providers around the world. Whereas there is nothing wrong in measuring value for money, it is not the best measure of outcomes of a patient-centred approach. It is valuable as an approach to satisfying the information needs of the management of a provider (private or public), a private patient, their insurance provider, the tax payer etc. But a patient is interested in the best health outcome, not necessarily the best value for money outcome.

Valueism suggests the report should have an expanded focus with the inclusion of a broader definition. Doing so would re-define how value is measured. And such accounting would open our eyes to the true value of healthcare. The data would also provide evidence to support the more important kinds of transformation in provision of healthcare that are required if we are to establish a truly value-based and patient-centred healthcare system. One shift would be greater emphasis on prevention rather than treatment —perhaps the most patient-centred policy that could be adopted.

The healthcare system transformation that is needed can be driven by new technologies that simultaneously increase value and reduce cost, but only if all aspects of value are fully understood, not limited to value for money thinking. However, there is a huge risk. As the costs of the current system spiral out of control the opportunity to add value will be lost to the focus on managing the bottom line and value for money.