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As I prepare for Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow, I reflect on the many blessings I enjoy, and the privilege and honor of being in an industry that allows me to give back each and every day. For me, I feel extraordinarily grateful to have a career in healthcare. For many years, I have worked with exceptional colleagues, and have witnessed the sacrifices this job demands. No matter the scope of their role, they go about their jobs exhibiting impressive ability, dedication, expertise and selflessness. Here is a recent example of that dedication.
It was 7 in the evening, and I was walking through the emergency room (ER) when I heard a faint voice from behind me say "thank you." I turned to see an elderly gentleman standing outside an ER bay where his wife lay barely conscious. The ER team worked in sync applying oxygen, starting intravenous fluids and hooking up EKG leads, which now displayed her heartbeat pulsing across the screen above her head.
by Sophia Bernazzani
As medical care becomes more advanced, the complexity multiplies, and so does the potential for adverse events. There is potential for harm at almost every step of a patient’s care. From the moment a patient walks through the door (misidentification, drug reactions, hospital-acquired infections) to when they walk out (falls, pressure ulcers, incomplete after care instructions) every interaction has the potential to put a potential harm into motion.
Preventable errors are multifactorial. A study by the RAND Corporation indicates approximately 30 percent of errors can be linked to negligence--the rest are the result of combinations of unintentional human error and system failure. These events cost hospitals an estimated $17 billion a year, according to an article published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
What can hospital administrators do?
In general, hospital executives can start by employing a few basic strategies. They can set attainable, but lofty, goals for reducing preventable harm, and ensure transparency through the reporting of adverse events and communication with patients. Data also plays a critical role in reducing the frequency of adverse events. Key decision-makers must have access to useable real-time data, and strong data collection methods and process monitoring help leaders adjust plans to fit real-world conditions.
In a recent blog for Hospital Impact, I wrote about how big data and storytelling interact in healthcare. I wanted to follow that up with a few more stories that came out of the workshop I presented with Mark Clark, vice president at Healthgrades, at SHSMD's annual conference in October. Our workshop, "Your Data Wants To Talk--How Can You Hear It?" focused on how to use big data to better understand your patients' and communities' healthcare behaviors. What does the data really mean? What is the story it is telling you?
Our research on urgent care centers revealed crucial information (that big data could not) about people's attitudes toward care delivery.
To demonstrate the challenges presented by big data, Mark and I used ethnographic research that my firm has been conducting on consumer experiences with urgent care centers (UCCs). As we observed people coming for urgent care, listened to their reasons for coming, followed up with what happened after the visit--the journey they were on--we heard a story that was hard to find in the data. We soon realized that there was more to the story that could help us better understand the growing demand for urgent care access.
by Matt Hawkins, M.D.
"Innovation is the key to our future." That's the slogan for #RSNA15. Innovation--of course--can be interpreted in variety of ways, though.
There is the scientific and technological approach to innovation. This approach results in new ways to image the human body, advance science, treat various ailments and diagnose disease. MRI elastography, novel radiopharmaceuticals, 3-D printing from DICOM data and further fMRI advances fall under this definition of "innovation." These advances are an absolute necessity for our field to continue to thrive in healthcare's future.
But they come at tremendous cost--and often result in only small incremental improvements over technology that is already ubiquitously available. The excitement surrounding these Star Trek-like innovations deems them worth the dollars--or so it seems. These exciting scientific imaging-based applications pave the way for academic careers and receive extensive attention at national meetings. They are the driving force behind journal articles entitled, "A single-institution's initial experience with Technology X" or "Intermediate results in patients treated with Technology Y" or (my favorite) "Pilot study of Technology Z to evaluate feasibility and efficacy of implementation."
Last week we had our ribbon-cutting for our Pathway to Discovery. It represents a tangible display of our optimal healing environment. I had a chance to reflect back--and I'm sure many thought it was a crazy idea to create this pathway across our campus, even though it reflects the values of healthcare today:
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