Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to Define "Help"?

When you order BBQ in Kansas City – you don’t just order burnt ends – you can order chopped burnt end sandwiches which can be sauced or dry – you can order a platter which can be sauced or dry – you can order it as a combo. Then there are the side dish selections…cheesy corn, beans, slaw, pickles….

Question #4 “During this hospital stay, after you pressed the call button, how often did you get help as soon as you wanted it?”

The interesting thing about the next section of the question is its tie to “help”.   What defines help?  In most hospitals if you press the “call button” there is one “button” it’s big and it’s red. You can figure out it’s for “help” even when you are groggy or sick. The newest fad is to add more buttons – which is great for me would work. I am used to self selecting. I self-check at the airport, I order meals and movies on my Iphone, and think nothing of the lack of real “service” that is providing.

My mom (who is 62) would think the extra buttons were a novelty. She would laugh as she tried to find her glasses to read the small words on the extra buttons “water, pain, or toilet” then ask me if she pressed toilet does that mean she has to go or that she went. She would never press the pain button because she rarely admits when she is in pain.  She would always press the red button.  (Please no hate mail here, I am generalized a generation based on my experience with my parents)

My grandma would press no buttons….even with her glasses she probably couldn’t read those little words, and she would look at the crazy “paddle” and say why are there so many buttons. Then she would look at me and say “Bo, go get my nurse” I would either press her big red button or I would just walk out of the room to find the nurse.

The point is defining “help” is challenging in a healthcare environment especially in a patient self-directed self-selection process. Evaluating “help” is even more challenging. There are numerous options and building the paddle would be a challenge. Ironically, in an industry move to be more efficient and direct patients needs to a caregiver using a decentralized design method – we lost a great deal of the data modeling. There is no way to track the request specifics in an automated fashion in a decentralized design without additional manual steps (which frankly defeats the purpose). There is no way to get specifics but there are request patterns.

There are ways to collect this request data – get a good understanding – then design you call processes. Just to take it a step further – we can tell you how many of each type of request hit when, how many were answered in your desired time frame (or what your average time frame), and even how the caregiver interacted with the request. If there is a hospital interested in knowing how to create a real patient centric care model – call us – we are looking for partners in a study to make life better.

The current analysis structure (at least what we have found published) looks at qualitative information – how many focus groups does it take to get to water, pain, and toilet? What’s crazy is all the information you could want to design the paddle or better the process is locked inside the nurse call system….if the hospital has a reporting package because most nurse call systems are built like archaic life safety tools with proprietary databases.

What’s more – I am the patient – I want to know how quickly you responded to my need – I know the information is there and frankly I know how to get to it. Stop and think how valuable that could be though - if I am going to do a survey (qualitative) to evaluate my care would it be better if I knew on average you answered my call light within 30 seconds every time PRIOR to me filling out the survey. Sometimes it feels like longer – but when you KNOW what the time is aren’t you more patient….Do you think that would influence my decision on whether or not I had good care?

But what do I know…. I am just a mom who had a sick baby and instead of blasting a hospital for a bad experience – I dug down to figure out how to solve for a pain I felt during a hospital stay.  It really is that simple….by the way so is the data.

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Kourtney Govro