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2017 – A few suggestions for the New Year

I would like to see providers put patients and their families first.  Not at the “center” or as a commitment to quality or outcomes or care or safety.  First.

What might “patients first” look like?

How about practice data management that makes engagement easy for the patient?  Many portals make self-service scheduling, messaging and access painful at best and often impossible.  Reward patients for using tools and being on time by using what we provide, DO NOT make us fill out the forms anyway!  Use information provided throughout encounters.    Most practices are all over helping patients avoid missing an appointment.  Email, texts and robotic phone calls assure that patients make care a priority by showing up.  Post visit follow up on test results, prescriptions, refills, referrals to other providers generally do not happen or happen randomly.  This should be systematically reliable.  If patients show up on time (early to fill out forms, pay copays and deductibles), they often sit and wait for hours for their turn.  There is not even the courtesy of an update.  How about an app that sends text warnings of practice scheduling delays, so patients can do something productive? How about scheduling realistically, monitoring and providing practitioner real time status and cyclical performance pattern feedback to address systemic or individual performance issues which impair patient service?  What about the pace of care?  Your doctor says some diagnostic tests are needed or a visit to a specialist is necessary, then we are told: “we can see you in weeks or a month”.  Make support for a diagnosis a priority.  If a loved one needs clinical care, shouldn’t that care be delivered at the soonest possible moment, not when it is convenient for the system to get to it?  I am often asked when I would like to be seen.  My response is usually “when is the earliest available appointment?”.  Getting served is important to the patient, this should be a priority for practices, too.

Pity the inpatient!  Ordered to rest, they are not allowed to sleep.  Caregivers show up to provide cyclical service (vitals, medications, dressing changes and so on) or to provide therapies, evaluations and consults randomly throughout a twenty-four-hour cycle.  Then there is food service, housekeeping and such.  Why not schedule quiet periods for patients which allow them to recuperate?  Manage noise, light and other factors to support rest.  Another tool suggestion: schedule and track all services for a patient, from the perspective of the patient!  Expose these schedules and tracking to unit nurses and aides so they always know what to expect and when to expect it.  Unit staff can answer patient and family questions!  How about an app that enables authorized family members to see this schedule and current/expected delivery status?  As with practices, provide real time execution feedback to staff and periodic performance analysis of systems, workflows and individual performance to deliver patient first care effectively and reliably.

In the Emergency Department, how about another app that enables someone in “chairs” to have an idea of their care status – when will a doctor be seen?  what is the projected discharge time?  will transport arrangements be needed?

Most patients may not be able to evaluate clinical competence medical, hospital or physician practice staff brings to treatment.  Consumers can recognize entities that design and operate systems and policies for their own convenience and goals, but not theirs.  Put patients first in 2017.

Seeking to improve patient experience?  Contact BrightWork Advisory, LLC to schedule a discussion of the opportunities you have today.

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