Faster Care and a Spa

HCR is still trying to determine the author of the following: “you can tell a lot about an organization’s culture by what people are talking about”.  So true.

In health care there is still no one talking quality!!!

Recently, a physician executive approached a physician about making improvements within a certain specialty service line of health care.  The physician executive presented a very well thought-out and researched process map and timeline of particular care path.  Then came the disappointment.  Rather than focus on how the outcomes at the end of the process map could be improved the physician executive asked how people can move through the process faster.  Honestly?  Is this the priority of every health care executive?  Why wasn’t the talk about outcomes and quality?  Is the health car system really committed to action on quality or is the quality talk just talk?  Maybe quality is just too difficult and no one wants to really do the heavy lifting.

It is understandable that patients would like their health care to proceed as expeditiously as possible.  In some scenarios in health care rapidity is a medical necessity.  In other scenarios however rapidity is honestly just a luxury.  Is it a luxury for which we are willing to pay?  Like any other metric in health care the time it takes a patient to complete a particular pathway of care can be optimized.  Also, like any other metric the optimization will require resources. Resources such as time, people and money.  As we stand at a crossroads between the old way and a potential new and better way the smart allocation of resources is imperative.  So who will make the call?  In this particular scenario one option would be to invest extra resources into the pathway so that patients move through faster.  If patients are getting slowed down in the testing process then just add extra hours of testing with the additional people and equipment.  Those who now are focused on quality would say that those resources could be better spent.  The alternative is to expect more from the current resources.  So just have the current providers and equipment work faster.  There is an obligatory loss of personalized care in this instance.  Also, shouldn’t health care be one of the industries where people are encouraged to work smarter not harder?

The entire issue of getting people through the system as quickly as possible is a great example of how patient’s expectations should be managed.  The timeliness of care should, like everything else, be evidence based and patients and physicians need to commit to this principle.  Do we want to invest precious resources on getting people through the system faster as a remedy for anxiety or do we want to invest those resources into quality and outcomes.  Education is a much better and inexpensive fix for anxiety.

As the meeting with the physician executive came to a close it was also noted that in addition to the initiative of getting people through the system faster the institution would be allocating resources to a spa.

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