Question
Asked 27th Dec, 2016
  • Manipal Hospital, KAYA

Proactive versus reactive approach. which is better?

A proactive approach focuses on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear and a reactive approach is based on responding to events after they have happened. The difference between these two approaches is the perspective each one provides in assessing actions and events.
Much is said about these approaches but little is practiced.
how is it possible to implement proactive management in health care

Most recent answer

17th May, 2021
Adnan Amin
Institute of Management Sciences, Pakistan, Peshawar
proactive is better. Please read this article

Popular answers (1)

3rd Jan, 2017
O R S Rao
The ICFAI University, Jharkhand
I do not think that in real-life , we can afford to have  a choice between Pro-active and Reactive  approach, in all situations.  Pro-active approach is generally more effective in terms of avoiding /reducing loss of  life.property etc. however, it depends on the situation, time available to take action and resource availability. I have seen that even in the case of worst natural disasters like cyclones , pro-active approach by civic authorities ,on the basis of limited scientific forecast inputs available, helped in averting major damages. However, if there is a sudden accident, we have no other choice but to react on the spot. In some situations, like disasters ( man-made or natural) , a combination of pro-active and reactive approaches can  be more effcetive. At times, pro-active approach may not work at all, as anticipation or scientific forecasts did not  turn out to be correct .    
7 Recommendations

All Answers (29)

27th Dec, 2016
Debra Sharon Ferdinand-James
The University of the West Indies at Mona
I think the old adage that prevention is better than cure is applicable here. Sometimes it costs more to repair the damage after it has been done, so I think it is better to be proactive, especially in Health Care as our bodies do not come with spares. The latter can be achieved by having ongoing health awareness programs on prevention of diseases as well as monitoring of such programs for their impact. Being an educational technologist, I might be tempted to "jump at" the next new app and mobile device (e.g. see wearable technology in attached) but I need to be aware of the health risks involved before doing so as the damage caused by radiation from such devices can be irreversible.
Best regards,
Debra
  • Reactive healthcare involves reacting to an adverse disease, injury, condition or symptom. If you wake up one morning with a fever and body aches, for instance, you may react by visiting the doctor.
  • Depending on the doc’s diagnosis, he or she may prescribe you with antibiotics to help your body fight the infection. Both you and the doctor are reacting to the symptoms.
  • Proactive healthcare differs from reactive in the sense that action is taking before symptoms manifest.
  • Rather than waiting until you feel the symptoms of the cold or flu virus, you can take a proactive approach towards your health by boosting your immune system with vitamin C, antioxidants, and by drinking plenty of fluids.
27th Dec, 2016
Ramanjaneyulu Mogili
National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli
Dear RG Member,
I think proactive approach is good for other.
27th Dec, 2016
Adil H.H. Bashir
Technische Universität München
Proactive versus reactive approach equal prevention better than treatment.
28th Dec, 2016
Jaharkanti Dattagupta
Novel Group of Institutes
Proactive approach is certainly better than reactive approach. You would agree that fire prevention is better than fire fighting. It is a known fact that, a spark neglected burns the house.
28th Dec, 2016
Rabeatul Husna Binti Abdull Rahman
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
In crisis management approach, proactive management can be implemented by recognizing a crisis situation and then preparing contingency planning.
To recognize a crisis situation, one should first identify the level of risk  and its impact on people and/or finance. A risk is considered 'severe' when the impact is high i.e. loss of life/injuries and also when the impact on finance is 'extraordinary'.
28th Dec, 2016
Saeed Asefzadeh
Qazvin University of Medical Sciences
Please refer to Akov theory concerning planning approches to get better 
understanding and view of the issue.
28th Dec, 2016
Kate R Lorig
Stanford University
  Of course we need prevention (proactive)--However this can be broken down.  primary prevention--doing something before illness such as vaccinations, good health behaviors, safety measure.  Secondary prevention or early diagnosis such as cancer and TB screening and finally tertiary prevention, helping people not to become worse such as exercise for arthritis, lowering carbs for people with diabetes etc.   While we would love to prevent all disease, today this is not possible.  In fact prevention has other consequences.  Maternal and Child Health has improved greatly in the past 50 years and with it longer life expectancy and the rise of chronic conditions.  Many cancers are cured  or life prolonged by early screening followed by treatment. Today chronic condition are the number one cost of health care in most of our countries.   So while we must maintain primary prevention and secondary prevention we must also place a new focus on tertiary prevention especially for our aging population.
1 Recommendation
28th Dec, 2016
Patricia Ann Herlihy
Rocky Mountain Research
Kate raises an interesting point... As a Nurse I always practiced all three levels of Prevention.... Primary Prevention depending on the audience & setting, hospital, school or workplace.... Secondary if the individaul always was exhibiting some concerning symptoms... and then Tertiary was usually full blown treatment ( reactive)... but I do think Kate raises a good point in terms of the elderly who frequently have some form of illness yet could also benefit from some preventative measures either to prolong life or provide comfort to them & their families.... nice discussion!
29th Dec, 2016
Shouqin Liu
jinan municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention
I think proactive approaches are  better than reactive approaches .
29th Dec, 2016
Philippe Durance
Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers
Pressing problems which require urgent action today are the direct result of a lack of anticipation in the past, and often draw resources away from more important tasks like long-term organizational development. In a world constantly changing whose trends are prone to quick redirections or even reversals, an increased effort in foresight (specifically in the domains of technology, economics, and society) is crucial for a company aspiring to have a flexible strategy (the ability to react nimbly to the forces of change and stay the course). In order to master change, organizations must correctly anticipate shifts in technological, competitive, and regulatory environments, and then do so neither too early nor too late.
Humanity has the choice among four attitudes when faced with the future. There is (1) the passive actor, who accepts change without challenging it; (2) the reactive actor, who waits for the alarm to sound before extinguishing the fire; (3) the pre-active actor, who prepares for foreseeable changes because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; and (4) the pro-active actor, who acts to provoke desirable change. 
In the context of a crisis, reactivity trumps the other attitudes. Likewise in the context of growth, pro-activity is the most important attitude, notably by way of provoking change through innovation. Prospective, which is anticipation in the service of action, is necessarily the combination of all three attitudes.
4 Recommendations
31st Dec, 2016
Jae Park
The Education University of Hong Kong
RE: A proactive approach focuses on eliminating problems before they have a chance to appear
I do not think it is possible to eliminate a problem before it appears. Proactiveness, as I understand it,  is an early take up of a problem with sustained action to solve it.
Maybe you meant Prevention? And that is a different approach. It is taking measures so that potential problems do not become actualized.
2 Recommendations
1st Jan, 2017
Jose M Mascaro
University of Barcelona
The situation is different depending on who needs to take the decision. It is not the same for an individual doctor in front of a specific patient (need to take into consideration gender, age , health condition etc. of him/her to prevent all possible side effects of a treatment as well as to detect and manage as soon as possible if they appear) or the health authority or organization of a country, or similar, who is also obliged to take into consideration the probability of all side effects of a treatment in a global population as well as many other factors (as could be the inconvenient of not  doing it,  even the cost of general measures for a huge number of people).
As your question is written in this forum I suppose it is for the first of these two situations. Then I believe that proactive idea could be good even though nobody could be sure of what will happen and an excessive proactive attitude in some cases could have contrary results than desired.
In any case I agree with the interesting comments of our colleagues Drs. Durance and Park. Prevention is certainly a more exact term to define which the rational attitude must be.
2 Recommendations
2nd Jan, 2017
Sunday Alayemi
Federal Polytechnic Offa
Proactive action is action taken to solve a problem before it occurs. if a problem is envisaged action can be taken to eliminate the problem. This will save the management of embarrassment. on the other hand, a reactive action is action taken after the event has occurred.  Much more damage might have been done if action is taken after the occurrence of the problem. therefore, proactive is better than reactive. Prevention is better than cure.
2 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2017
Edward Agbai
Walden University
The case for been proactive ahead been reactive is fact dependent, however, in a plant operation, the need for planned maintenance of plant equipment and machinery (Proactive) and its gain have been established. So I would go for a proactive approach to addressing the issue in my plant operation. The need for the reactive approach is accommodated in the just in time (JIT) approach for expensive plant equipment that cannot be stocked or planned for.
Edward Agbai
1 Recommendation
3rd Jan, 2017
O R S Rao
The ICFAI University, Jharkhand
I do not think that in real-life , we can afford to have  a choice between Pro-active and Reactive  approach, in all situations.  Pro-active approach is generally more effective in terms of avoiding /reducing loss of  life.property etc. however, it depends on the situation, time available to take action and resource availability. I have seen that even in the case of worst natural disasters like cyclones , pro-active approach by civic authorities ,on the basis of limited scientific forecast inputs available, helped in averting major damages. However, if there is a sudden accident, we have no other choice but to react on the spot. In some situations, like disasters ( man-made or natural) , a combination of pro-active and reactive approaches can  be more effcetive. At times, pro-active approach may not work at all, as anticipation or scientific forecasts did not  turn out to be correct .    
7 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2017
Jose M Mascaro
University of Barcelona
I fully agree with the commentary of our colleague Sunday Alayemi, The problem is that we are evaluating a term difficult to use in Medicine.  Before an infectious disease the patient is, at least apparently, healthy (free of that disease if not in the incubation period). When we establish a health certificate (needed for some insurances, contract of employment etc.) we merely mention he/she is “apparently in good condition” (even after a full medical examination). Since we can’t predict all hidden health problems that later could emerge, even in a short time. This is why in Medicine the most suitable word is not proactive but prevention (for those that some call “proactive measures”). At the present time it is common to utilize words that are appropriate for some fields but less precise for others. Consequently, as has been written by our colleague Jae Park, in Medicine prevention is a more appropriate term than proactive. 
2 Recommendations
3rd Jan, 2017
Ahmed Zinety
Sanofi
Proactivity means a " What If " approach. 
Problem can occur any time but proactive people already have calculated and prepared solutions.
1 Recommendation
5th Jan, 2017
Chacha Magasi
College of Business Education, Dar Es Salaam
Proactive approach calls in solving the problem before it occurs. Instead of waiting for sick patients to come knocking on your door, you need to figure out what they need, when they need it, and how to get it for them (proactive approach). For example, clinical research has shown a reduction in risk of developing diabetes of over 50% following relatively modest changes in lifestyle that include adopting a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight. However, 80 percent of the world’s diabetic population lives in countries where only 20 percent of the global budget for healthcare is spent. In that case, patients realize to have diabetes when they feel symptoms of blindness, lower limb amputations, kidney failure, heart attacks and stroke. They attend in the health centre for treatment (reactive approach). Similar scenarios can happen in marketing, politics and natural calamities like earthquakes, fire and floods. In real life, it is very difficult to proactively act on some issues because we can’t predict exactly what will happen in the future. In spite of all these, proactive is the best approach.
2 Recommendations
5th Jan, 2017
Han Ping Fung
HP Inc.
Proactive versus reactive approach. which is better?
Think proactive approach is better because it is always step(s) ahead of reactive approach whereby benefits can be yielded earlier, resulting in lower risk & lower cost etc.  E.g. an initial small problem can be proactively addressed with minimal impact & cost vs when the problem becomes too great to be reactively addressed with greater negative impacts or higher costs.
1 Recommendation
5th Jan, 2017
Edward Simpson
Abertay University
Dear Satyaprasad,
The answer depends upon how you interpret better. Whilst we would all like to predict and avoid negative issues in decision-making it does not necessarily advance learning.  I was enlightened on this matter through reading two of Henri Petroski's books: To Engineer is Human (the Role of Failure in Successful Design) and Success Through Failure the Paradox of Design.  Both books an enjoyable read and might help your reflection and deliberations on this issue.
2 Recommendations
9th Jan, 2017
Arpita Chakraborty
National Institute of Technology, Durgapur
I personally believe proactive approach requires well understanding of subject and its application whereas reactive approach impose due to grave circumstances. So, for instant (short term) results reactive is good whereas for long term results proactive approach will reap better results.
I am primarily talking in context of environment. May be suitable at every place.
3 Recommendations
20th May, 2019
Eleanor Freed
Tip Top
In choosing approaches I suggest we consider the actor. Individuals have personal affinities leaning in one of these preparation/action styles, so the "best" choice in a context may be for the person to act on their own strength. If a system or organization identifies a role as proactive-positive, then a person with that propensity is best suited to control it, whereas JIT ready and inclined people are better suited in roles requiring immediacy, especially when considering all present factors is important. My point is that the "best choice" is having the correct match of person to situational demand (i.e. of JIT vs AOT vs pre-active (RBN right before needed).
21st May, 2019
Jaharkanti Dattagupta
Novel Group of Institutes
For any approach to be successful, four factors: attitude, resources, skill and motivation are important. In my previous generilistic answer I said that proactive approach was better. But, the approach is required to be based on situations, the correct predictions are sometimes difficult. Even after several precautions, an emergency may arise, where reactive response is essential. In health care, it is often said that prevention is better than cure. But in case of unknown ailments, the approach is essentially reactive. Therefore, there should be prudent mix of proactive and reactive approach for management.
1 Recommendation
23rd May, 2019
Kaukab Abid Azhar
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
You rightly mentioned the factors that make a difference in implementing any approach. Often people get carried away with the proactive approach; neglecting these factors and not taking resource (as a constraint) into consideration.
31st Jul, 2020
Mauricio Piñeros
University of Tolima
Sin lugar a dudas, en la utopía quisiéramos tener una atención en salud totalmente proactivo, donde la promoción de la salud y la prevención de la enfermedad fueran las tareas a desarrollar día a día. Pero fuera de la utopía tenemos casos ya existentes como 450 millones de pacientes con diabetes mellitus en el mundo, casos de cáncer que crecen día a día, incremento en las tasas de prevalencia de las enfermedades huérfanas, y muchos más ejemplos, que nos llevan a pensar en las generaciones futuras, estableciendo para ellas un modelo proactivo, que permita reducir las prevalencias de enfermedades no transmisibles graves y al mismo tiempo permita en un largo plazo, poder reducir los costos del sistema en el modelo reactivo, y ser un mix que permita dedicar mayores y mejores recursos al modelo proactivo.
2nd Aug, 2020
Sunday Alayemi
Federal Polytechnic Offa
The future is very difficult to be predicted accurately, hence uncertainty envelopes the future. However, if the future can be predicted with a reasonable level of certainty, proactive is better.
17th May, 2021
Adnan Amin
Institute of Management Sciences, Pakistan, Peshawar
proactive is better. Please read this article

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