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This illustration from the company Root does a good job in summing up today's healthcare environment. Notice the people in the raft--those are patients struggling to hang on in the turbulent tides of healthcare.
I once went rafting in Alaska and the preamble to the trip was filled with all of the what-if scenarios that could happen, like if you capsize. My mother-in-law was terrified and didn't want to be there.
You see, with bundled payments, value-based purchasing, readmission penalties and more, outside forces are saying "move care outside the hospital; we don't want patients there." The same forces in long-term care are moving services to the home with aging in place. And like my mother-in-law in the raft, people are terrified to become patients.
During the holidays, I had the pleasure of seeing the play "Avenue Q" in an off-Broadway production in New York. I had to chuckle.
As children, the characters were assured by their parents and by children's television programs that they were "special" and "could do anything." But as adults, they have discovered that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more "special" than anyone else.
Ironically, the characters spend a good portion of their time ruminating about their "purpose." By now you know how much harping I do about understanding your passion and purpose. This play made me think that perhaps passion and purpose will always be works in progress.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. While that's Aretha's line, it would seem to one Harvard professor that its opposite--disrespect--is the systemic cause of problems in hospitals.
Lucian Leape, adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, was cited in a recent article saying disrespect is the reason why so many patients leave the emergency room, why staff is "demoralized" and why medical errors persist.
In the journal Academic Medicine, Leape and his co-authors outlined six categories of disrespect, the final one being systemic disrespect that's baked into the profession.
As I look back at all that was written and shared during this past year on patient experience, not only in my previous blog posts, but in the words shared by so many--patient experience leaders, caregivers, hospital administrators, physicians, patients and family members--I was moved to find compelling, powerful and even emotional themes.
As readers, you were drawn to the stories shared about the experiences people had and it brought home an important point. As much as we in healthcare strive to provide the best patient and family experience, enact effective strategies and tactics, and implement the required policies, we must remember we are patients and family members ourselves.
In the talks I share and in visits to healthcare organizations, I witness what I believe rests at the core of the healthcare experience--we are human beings taking care of human beings.
Earlier this month I was participating in a board call for CCAL--Advancing Person Centered Living. I have written about what we do earlier.
The essence--it's not just about patient-centered care. People live most of their lives outside of four-walled providers--hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living. And they deserve the same dignity, respect and choice that we have concentrated on instilling in provider settings.
One of our board members is Martin Bayne, a journalist, Buddhist monk, MIT graduate, and well known advocate for the aging. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, and for the past 10 years he has lived in an assisted living facility. He is in his early 60s.
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