Physician Innovator, Technology Enabled Care
“When will you place the order?”, the lady at the restaurant asked.
Not so fast, I thought to myself. We were trying the food for an event. I never ate here before.
So, how do you decide whether this food is worth buying? Well, it has to taste good, smell good and look good. You may also want to check out their Yelp ratings.
It has to be prepared in a hygienic way. My friend has a way of telling that by visiting their restroom! “If the restroom is clean, then the kitchen must be clean.”
Soon after finishing lunch and getting into my car, I started feeling uneasy in my stomach. Uh oh! Now I am calculating the time it takes to get home. In situations like this, it feels like the car in front of you has the slowest driver on the freeway!
I started thinking about healthcare quality, while sitting on my thinking chair! And how to measure it. It is a lot more complex than evaluating food at a restaurant for sure.
We could survey the patients and ask them a bunch of questions. Although important, this covers what the patient feels and is very subjective, just like Yelp ratings.
There is another way healthcare’s quality is measured. You can look at things like, breast cancer screening rates, hospital infection rates, surgical complication rates etc. This is more objective. But is this good enough?
So, here is where it gets tricky. Scoring high in these measures -does it correlate with mortality and morbidity improvement in patients? A low surgical complication rate is great, but do we know if the surgery was actually indicated in the first place and did it improve the patient outcome? A friend of mine said, “Every unnecessary surgery is a surgical complication”.
How about hospitalization? In my books, hospitalization is the failure of the system (most of the time) to keep the patient healthy. So, the patient can have great interactions with the staff, have a wonderful experience in the hospital, the hospital may have a very low hospital acquired infection rate and still not be doing the right thing.
Doing a thing right does not mean you are doing the right thing!
I have seen patients in the emergency who come with back pain, proudly showing off their scars and saying, “I had 7 back surgeries”. I am sure they got excellent care every time. But is that leading to better patient outcomes?
Yes, I heard all the excuses. Healthcare is complicated. Each patient is different. My patients are unique. My treatments are special. Unfortunately, these are the excuses that are driving up the cost and without increasing positive outcomes for patients.
Let’s start looking at this. We now have the capacity to do it. We have the data. We have the technology. We have the tools. We just need leadership that cares about outcomes. Our patients deserve it!
What is your take?
I just remembered, I need to leave a review on that restaurant.