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Let's face it: As people make New Year's resolutions, they may be including bucket-list items to accomplish in 2015. Being a patient in a hospital will not be one of them. I had a bucket-list item happen to me in December, and what I learned from it might just contain a lesson or two for healthcare professionals.
Many of you know that in addition to being a healthcare professional, I have been a life-long performer, musician and singer. Thanks to a music-loving mother and father, I grew up like most of my south Philly Italian brethren on the Great American Songbook, the classics sang by Sinatra, Martin, Crosby and so many more. I sang those songs in my house and now sing them for assisted living and nursing home residents.
In bands however, I was a rock and roller, and when I gear up as a solo act outside the long-term care settings, I still am. But I have always dreamed of singing the great songs with a big band. My wish came true Dec. 15.
I discovered the Lake Norman Big Band last September when I took my wife and mom to see them for mom's 93rd birthday. Wow, who knew this 27-piece orchestra existed, let alone played every third Monday in a bowling alley in Mooresville, North Carolina. I saw that they had two female vocalists and at the time no male vocalist. So after the concert I sent the band president a few of my vocal tracks and imposed myself on them so to speak by suggesting that just maybe I could sing with them in the future.
Well, next thing I knew I was rehearsing with them in early December and performed with them twice, singing four songs in their holiday program. Major bucket-list item and honor. Here is what I learned.
By now we're used to and numb to airlines adding fee after fee to drive as much revenue as possible. Booking fees, change fees, premium seat fees, bag fees. Flying used to be a great experience. Now it's a cattle herd. Oh, and don't dare recline that seat!
It seems the hospital industry is following the trend. Witness two articles in The New York Times in the space of a month that essentially amount to cataloging the price gauging taking place in the industry. While the industry talks about cost cutting and the need for it, hospitals not so subtly try to make up reimbursement cuts by creatively finding ways to charge extra and often hidden fees.
I met with a colleague last month with whom I'm partnering to create a system that can help organizations monitor and respond to patient and family concerns, questions and compliments in real time using their own devices.
Who wouldn't want that in their organization? Get on top of situations. Promote positive word of mouth. Set up the organization for better HCAHPS responses.
Turns out some organizations want to run the other way.
The platform allows organizations to get data in real time. And with that comes responsibility. The organization must act on it and align their processes and workflows to become a responsive organization. Not every organization is ready to or willing to do this.
For those readers following the black cloud over our family's head this year, you know that my wife's brother and then my sister passed away less than a month apart earlier this year. On Aug. 23, so did my father-in-law, Lou. He was hospitalized July 3 and never made it home. While 51 days of his hospital experience were miserable, the last day of his life was peaceful and dignified.
His last day was spent in hospice, administered in the hospital through a separate company not affiliated with the hospital. The culture difference was glaring. And hospice workers were truly caring.
First, they respected the family's wishes. I married into a large Irish family and there were probably 20 of us around his bed as they withdrew support. Even a cousin from Northern Ireland, a priest, came over and administered last rites. Crowd control was not an issue. The hospice nurse simply let us have our space while she explained necessary information in a respectful manner.
Earlier this year I attended a World Health Care Congress session on employee health. The head of Comcast's human resources spoke. He offered a different perspective on addressing employees' health.
Comcast focuses less on specific programs to promote employee wellness (benefits, wellness centers) and more on the underlying triggers that cause bad health to manifest.
He cited something I hadn't heard of before. It was Eliza Corporation's Engagement Index. This tool examines life context issues while predicting how those issues impact health, spending and satisfaction--ultimately expanding the definition of health.
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