Friday, July 29, 2011

The ER Visit Blog

As some of you saw in a recent tweet, I had to journey to the Emergency Room for a brief visit.  While it wasn’t intended to give me material for a blog post – it has provided me with some thoughts that are worth sharing to my fellow technologists.

During the visit one of the questions I was asked by my fabulous nurse was "Who is your primary care physician?" This should be an easy one, right?  Well, it’s easy if you have been to a PCP more recently than your last year of college.  Yes, a little known fact about me is I have a terrible phobia of Doctors (ironic right?) As part of my discharge process both the Nurse and the Doctor said I needed to followup with a PCP.   I told them I understood and thanked them for their help – fully knowing in my mind that I had no intention of going to see a PCP….that’s where sick people go and I am not sick…I am healthy, OCD about eating right, I don’t need a doctor.   My husband had other thoughts and soon I was scheduled to see a PCP.

As I bemoaned the coming doctors visit I had a call from my conscious the voice of reason since age 12  (her name is Carrie) and without belittling me she made mention that you can’t improve when you don’t know where you start.  Then, in a way only she can, she reminded me that I preach to dozens of clients and businesses.  "Kourtney, don't you tell people there is a need for “baseline” data before starting an improvement process.  Yet there is not one ounce of data pertaining to your medical care over the past 10 years."   (other than my calorie counting iphone ap)

Sometimes, even when we are healthy we need a doctor.  Technologist, do you make products that make sick hospitals better or do you create products that enable the on-going health management of hospitals?  At some point isn't the goal for the hospital to be well - doesn't that somehow work you out of a job if you are always focusing on sick?  
Even if you are focused on fixing a pain - How do you know that your technology or service has improved their facility?  Do you know specifically what processes you impact and what things within the processes you are measuring that link directly to patient satisfaction and improved care?  Can you measure them? Will you measure them?  Or are you satisfied with the status quo technology buying cycle where people by a feature and are not guaranteed a result.
Technology enables a process.  A process is NOT worth changing or implementing if the steps are not measurable and the data derived is not linked to a meaningful goal.

Technologist, if you are not providing a baseline that is documented with data directly from an existing technology prior to implementing a new technology then you are doing the hospital, it’s clinicians, and it’s patients a huge disservice. 

In case you were wondering - There is value in driving the wellness of organizations as well as fixing a pain.

In the end – I did go to see a Primary Care Physician. To all of you doctors out there, I chose him on a few factors - he was recommended by someone I trust, time spent with patient exceeded the norm, but my final decision point for choosing him..... what made the biggest portion of my decision?  He was part of the network of the hospital that I visited and he had automatic access to my electronic patient record from my Emergency Room experience.  No phone calls – no faxes just a few clicks and there I was in all of my single entry glory.  I drive 35 minutes to his office.

I know my Data is important in decisions and that on-going my data available to my care providers for logical diagnosis decisions is critical.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reflections of a Former Fat Girl

A wise CEO I know said that “Trended Change is the only Change of Value.”  In terms that most of us can relate to – if you lose 10lbs and can’t keep it off then you have failed.  I have been on as many diets as Oprah Winfrey and failed as many times.  At my largest I was well over 215lbs, my smallest around 140lbs.  Now, I am somewhere in between.    Whether it was a pill or a plan I would move blindly towards the current fad diet searching for my magic bullet.   I call it experiential learning, after years of failure I have figured out that the magic bullet does not exist.  

The only way to succeed in consistent long term weight loss and management is by lifestyle change.   Which is a lot different than saying “I am going on another diet” A diet may provide a specific goal but it also implies a designated time frame, at some point we reach the goal.  How many of us look forward to reaching the goal so the diet is over and we can go back to “normal”?

A lifestyle change means that you not only have identified the functional causes, but you have established a starting point.   A lifestyle change involves education and understanding, which may require technology and data. Once you have identified the functional causes you can hone in on the decisions and behaviors that are creating the situation and begin to make a change.    I applaud my friends at Cerner for the KC Slimdown challenge and if you haven’t taken a look pop on and see.  If you are competing with Team S3 – good luck - I like to win and I really like Sporting KC. (It's one of the prizes)

At this point you may be asking – why is this CEO of a patient experience & safety analytics company writing a blog about diets?   Improvement whether its weight or patient experience is all about making a lifestyle change, and managing yourself after the change.     One of the reasons weight watchers works is because you are consistently watching your weight.  Hospitals need tools to consistently watch their weight.   I get on a scale nearly every day which some may find excessive but seeing the number motivates me towards doing the right things during the day.   

S3 Aperum is the like the scale I get on each morning.  It’s providing patient experience and safety data in a "weight management" format to allow leadership to make adjustments and alignments as needed.  I would love to tell you it is the magic bullet, but it’s only part of the puzzle.   Like any weight loss or management program technology is a tool that enables us to succeed it’s not the tool that makes us succeed.    We have developed 4 key areas called pickle points where hospitals have issues surrounding patient safety and satisfaction.  3 of the 4 are not technology based – they are identified using technology but the root is in people, policy, and behavior.

For fun – if you have a “Slimdown” story you would like to share – please post it as a comment.  We would like to hear of your success, your process, and on-going management.