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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.
I was in theDistrict of Columbia in April, and at a meeting the idle chitchat turned to a lively conversation about Uber. Ever heard of it? I hadn't.
Uber, through the Uber App, seamlessly connects riders to drivers. At its basic level, it is a cross between taxi and car service. Founded in 2009, it is in 70 cities today. And taxi companies are not too happy.
See, Uber takes the yucky out of the taxi experience and then enhances that experience with the mobile app. I was in New York City for my birthday. Having downloaded the app, I said to my wife, "Let's try this." All I can say is, "Wow."
"The real measures have to come from the heart not ROI."
That is the message that Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., shared as he opened the Cleveland Clinic's 2014 Patient Experience Empathy and Innovation Summit on May 19. Despite all the metrics that have descended upon providers and the carrots and sticks that sometime spur interest in patient experience, it really comes down to measures from the heart or doing the right thing.
When I speak at various conferences and hospital leadership events, I dummy down my message about patient experience--simply, we over-complicate it. We need to step back, catch our breath and use common sense. Here are some nonhealthcare examples:
I attended a Health Affairs briefing for its April issue entitled "The Long Arm of Alzheimer's Disease." It was eye opening.
Many participants discussed a cure for the disease, but some presenters clearly understood that a cure could be a long time away--living with the disease is the bigger issue. When we look at people living with the disease, it's not just about patient care, but also their direct caregivers and other family members. It calls for new and perhaps unconventional partnerships.
For example, Laurie Ryan, the program director of Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials, National Institute of Aging, National Institutes of Health, discussed clinical trial recruitment and the need to find people who are "younger" and not manifesting the disease.
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