I recently had the opportunity to experience healthcare from a different point of view. My daughter had an emergency appendectomy, which forced me to navigate the healthcare system from the other side. As an Emergency Physician, I am used to quickly synthesizing data to care for my patients and make decisions that affect their lives. Patient safety and transparency are naturally woven into my workflow…..I really don’t concentrate on them. But when my nine year old daughter looked worried and said that she’s afraid something “bad” might happen, I wanted patient safety and transparency to be top on the healthcare list!
How are we, as a Healthcare IT industry, addressing these issues? Why are there 200,000 preventable medical deaths in this country every year? In September 2012, Johns Hopkins University’s Dr. Marty Makary, author of the recently published book, Unaccountable, wrote that American surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. Patient safety and improved outcomes should be our top priorities. With the advent of EMR, EHR, CPOE, decision support at the point of care, Healthcare BI, portals and several other technological advances in medicine to guide us, we should be able to streamline workflow, reduce errors, improve outcomes and cut costs. But it needs to start from the top.
Leadership and physician engagement in change management processes are crucial if our healthcare system is to survive. Organizations need to have a strategy to engage their staff, integrate their healthcare delivery systems and provide guidance on best practices to fix our current fragmented care system and create a holistic one. A cultural change must occur which allows transparency to happen. Physicians need to be included, educated on the effectiveness of teamwork and shown how reducing harm and waste will actually produce better outcomes and improve their bottom line. As a physician with one foot in the IT world and one foot in the clinical world, I realize that I have to help with that cultural change.
Luckily, my daughter visited a hospital where teamwork, patient safety and transparency were valued by the clinicians who cared for her. She is recovering nicely and will soon be able to resume all things “girl” again. Imagine if she had become one of those statistics…