Written by: John Lynn
Saturday I had the tremendous (that’s in the sarcasm font in case you missed it) opportunity to do a pediatric walk in visit for my daughter. Everything is fine and my daughter’s doing well. However, while I was waiting in the lobby, I saw the following sign posted on the wall:
For those who can’t see images, here’s what it says:
Mission: Deliver the highest quality of care to tall of our patients.
Promise: HealthCare Partners of Nevada and its team of professionals will not tolerate nor be indifferent to poor quality.
Creed: Live our mission; Keep our promise
Someone recently described my blog focus as covering the business of healthcare. I thought that was a pretty decent description. Certainly we have an IT bend to almost all of our content, but we’re happy to write about anything that relates to the business of healthcare. It just so happens that IT is involved in almost every business aspect of healthcare.
With this focus, I think I sometimes get a little jaded when it comes to healthcare organizations motivations when it comes to the care they provide their patients. I’ve often argued for the importance of the almighty dollar when it comes to influencing doctors in healthcare. This was reinforced just today in Dr. Jayne’s post on HIStalk where she said, “At least all of our physicians were migrated to a common contract in tandem with our EHR project more than half a decade ago because we realized only money would align them with our goals.”
While I still believe that the financial incentives are the best motivator, I think we need to be careful and not take it too far. Healthcare should be and can be more than just the financial incentives alone. In fact, any organization with a long term view will likely have a mission similar to the one espoused by Partners HealthCare.
I strive similarly with my blogs. Certainly I need my blogs to be a viable business and I want to continue building them to be able to reach more people. However, my goal is for my blogs to be about much more than just making a buck. I believe they have, can, and will have an important impact for good on healthcare. I’m sure I’ll overstep on occasion and my good readers will hold me accountable when I do. However, hopefully the Healthcare Scene network can stay focused on providing real value to those who read.
I should maybe consider having my wife do a guest blog post on Partners HealthCare’s above mission as well. She took two of my boys to the same pediatric office today for a scheduled appointment to get some immunizations they said were needed. After waiting an hour in a non-kid friendly exam room with two children, the doctor came in for the visit and noticed my son was acting wild. The doctor then asked if my son was ready for Kindergarten if he couldn’t sit still in the exam room. My wife quickly replied that if he hadn’t kept her waiting in a non-kid friendly exam room for an hour, then our son would have been fine. Not to mention, my son was not looking forward to the shots.
To add insult to injury, the doctor returned to inform my wife that my son didn’t actually need the immunizations. They had finally found the record and he had already had all the required shots. My guess is they couldn’t find the record because they’d had to switch EHR when their EHR vendor sunset their original EHR. This is the same EHR which the doctor had told me two days previously, “He hated even more than the previous one.” That’s almost enough for me to want a PHR for my children. However, it’s not like the school would accept an immunization record from the PHR.
One could argue that my wife’s experience above didn’t compromise the quality of care my children received. That’s true unless you consider the counseling my wife will need for being driven insane while she waited for an appointment she didn’t actually need.
Having worked in clinics, I’m sympathetic to the doctor and practice. We realize things run behind. We realize their are limitations on what child friendly things they can have in exam rooms (although, how about a TV?). We understand that records get lost or that mistakes are made when looking them up. Although, when all those things conspire against my wife, you can understand her frustration.
This discussion reminds me of a topic I’ve been talking a lot about recently. There’s a difference between quality of care and customer service. As patients we have very little understanding of the quality of care we’re being provided. We don’t really know if the quality of care we’re getting is good or not. However, we’re keenly aware of the customer service experience. If you look at any doctor ratings site, it’s all rating customer service. Yet, so many of us equate those ratings with the quality of care.
What’s the moral of the story? We can all do better. That’s the journey we have ahead of us in healthcare. Continue to improve and do the best we can to provide amazing care. This is not a one time battle that you win and move on. It’s an ongoing battle that never ends. That’s what makes it so difficult. It’s also what makes it so important.