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Entries Tagged 'Lack of Coordination' ↓



Interview with Kathleen Benner Part III: Doctors Need to Listen More Than 18 Seconds

Posted by ClearDirections on April 12th, 2011 in Communication, Financial, Hospital Management, Innovation, Lack of Coordination | No Comments

After reading about Kathleen Benner, the vibrant and energetic president of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages, both of which are based in Hinsdale, IL, in a Crain’s Chicago Business article last year, I connected with her to find ways to help her healthcare startup. She also is an attorney and mother of three with her entrepreneur husband, all who keep her balanced. To view more about her healthcare businesses, visit http://hospitalcompanions.com/ and http://empoweringpages.com/. Her companies’ mission is to bring peace of mind to both the patients and families they serve. Read on to hear more about her ideas to help you become a “Best Competitor.”

Stillman: Any other overall suggestions for improving America’s healthcare system, not just looking at the patient experience?

Benner: Of course. I can’t say it loudly enough: medical malpractice reform. It’s coming from a legal background and reading some of the cases. Yes, there are some horrendous things that happen, of course. But, we have to reform that system. It is dragging on costs. It is putting insurance companies in a much more difficult position and the doctor in a much more difficult position. That would be my first recommendation.

I have never written to a senator or President before, but when they were doing the healthcare reform talk, I wrote to the President, to my senators and my representatives and said, “How are you not talking about medical malpractice reform as an integral part of this?” To be able to improve, you have to remove the shackles of malpractice.

The other issue is insurance portability. My husband and I are both self-employed, so our healthcare insurance is our single largest payment every month. I don’t know why I can’t shop in North Dakota for insurance. You know what I mean? Why can’t we compete across state lines? More competition seems to be better. These companies already exist. They’re already providing this type of a service.

You know, my parents went through the same thing when were moving from Illinois to Florida when they had to obtain new insurance from Florida. I think that the portability of your insurance and to be able to compete over state lines would help the healthcare system, because again, you’re going to be approaching costs at that point. More competition would lead to better insurance programs being developed.

Stillman: I have to admit, I never had to think about that in terms of switching from state to state. I wasn’t aware that when you move that you would have to switch insurance.

Benner: The other thing that’s crazy is the volume of patients physicians see in a day. Some physicians I know are seeing 45 to 65 patients a day. How do you provide personalized, effective healthcare to 45 to 65 people a day?

Stillman: That’s pretty much the norm, and some think nothing of it. I agree. How could you possibly connect with 45 to 65 people in one day, and affect their health status in a meaningful way? At some point, it would seem impossible for them to see their patients as anything more than widgets. I have to imagine at the end of a long week, some think, “How many more are we just going to touch and get through the assembly line so I can get out of here?”

Benner: Yes. I read a study that a doctor lets a patient talk for 18 seconds before he or she typically interrupts them. That’s the average. So, some doctors are treating people literally how they present in that moment, but they’re not looking any further back or forward in the lives of their patients. And, that’s not really healthcare. That may be medical care. That’s not healthcare.

Stillman: Wow, 18 seconds. That’s an interesting statistic. Certainly if you want to have a competitive edge as a physician, let your patients talk, and listen. That’s easy.

Benner: They don’t have time. And, you know when people talk, and I know this as an attorney, too, you’ll get a lot of superfluous information. And, you’re trying to dig through it just for what’s important. You want the bullet point. But, that’s not an effective way to get the information a physician needs to effectively treat a patient, right?

In our next post, you’ll hear more of our interview with Kathleen Benner of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages. Subscribe to the Best Competitor Blog to read stimulating ideas for improving the American healthcare system and ways hospitals, systems, large medical groups and healthcare product manufacturers can better compete in today’s marketplace. We welcome your suggestions for future interview subjects or topics. Simply leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Interview with Kathleen Benner, Part II: Stars in the Long-Term View Include Delnor in Geneva, Ill.

Posted by ClearDirections on March 29th, 2011 in Communication, Hospital Management, Lack of Coordination | No Comments

After reading about Kathleen Benner, the vibrant and energetic president of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages, both of which are based in Hinsdale, IL, in a Crain’s Chicago Business article last year, I connected with her to find ways to help her healthcare startup. She also is an attorney and mother of three with her entrepreneur husband, all who keep her balanced. To view more about her healthcare businesses, visit http://hospitalcompanions.com/ and http://empoweringpages.com/.  Her companies’ mission is to bring peace of mind to both the patients and families they serve. Read on to hear more about her ideas to help you become a “Best Competitor.”

Stillman: Where have you seen a lot of advancements in healthcare, such as in the hospital environment, like the Planetree model and effective use of the medical home?  Are you seeing a lot of that in the Midwest in the hospitals you’re talking with here, or more in different pockets of the country?

Benner: I have to say that Delnor’s a Planetree hospital, and we’ve been out there once, and that’s a great environment.  Central DuPage Hospital has instituted some new concepts when they built their new wing and really made it a more comfortable kind of family-enhanced atmosphere.  The best place that we have seen, the leading edge, is Mayo in Phoenix.  They do a damn good job.  It’s a team approach, and it is a medical home team, and the team gets together and talks.  They do a real fine job escorting the family coming out, and keeping the communication in a big file together for the doctor that you’re going back to.  That doctor is always welcome to call.

Physicians who have reached a pinnacle in their career and are very good at what they do seem much more open to helping others.  Those who are the best in their field seem to feel this obligation to spread their knowledge, and they do.  They do a nice job at Mayo, which is not a surprise.

Stillman: That’s great to hear, because I do find that there are pockets of expertise in the country, and I think that the Midwest by far has quite a bit of work to do compared to the coasts and the South.  I know from looking at many hospital organizations, looking at new buildings as far as just green design and Planetree design, there’s not a lot of it here.

Benner: You would think that they would have at this point figured out that their bottom line will be affected.  Now, I know it’s not a direct effect necessarily, but I know when I had a heart issue a couple years ago, I found the best darn heart doctor for the electrical issue I had.

I ended up at University of Chicago, with the best doctor, but not the best care environment.  Now, if I were to do it all again, would I go back to him?  Yes, I would, because we’re talking about my heart.  But, if I am going to have an chronic issue where I’m was going to be in and out and need care, and I’ll need support, my family will need support, you really, if you have a Planetree approach or a patient-centered care approach, you are going to get a better outcome.

So, maybe hospitals aren’t seeing it because the urgency versus the experience.  As educators in the industry, we need to create that nexus for people between experience and outcome.

Stillman: I believe one of the problems is that view is not long enough.  The leadership is looking at today’s bottom line versus someone’s long-term health status, and it is easy to forget that the impact they have today on someone’s health for the rest of their lives. So there’s just no incentive because the hospital leadership is incentivized to keep this year’s bottom line intact.

Benner: Right.  Now, if they’re having a wonderful experience and there’s good communication, they’re going in for their follow-up.  They’re not readmitted.  So yes, if we could create a nexus where you show the effect and bottom line impact, we’d be able to change how the hospital business is run.

Stillman: Longitudinal projections of how a good experience today impacts your health 20 years from now, and then be able to quantify that.  I think that would be an amazing study.

In our next post, you’ll hear more of our interview with Kathleen Benner of Hospital Companions and Empowering Pages.  Subscribe to the Best Competitor Blog to read stimulating ideas for improving the American healthcare system and ways hospitals, systems, large medical groups and healthcare product manufacturers can better compete in today’s marketplace. We welcome your suggestions for future interview subjects or topics. Simply leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

A Stick in the Arm is the Easy Part

Posted by ClearDirections on February 4th, 2011 in Communication, Inconvenience, Lack of Coordination, Outpatient Lab Testing, Time Waste | 6 Comments

You would think obtaining a standard, fasting blood draw for a 9-year-old before school would be simple, right? Wrong. After spending the morning today hearing complaints about not wanting to go to the lab to endure the prick of the needle, I successfully ushered our son out the door for a blood level check required after taking a new medication for a month. Driving through the slippery, bitter cold streets of southwestern Chicago just two days after being buried in a blizzard, we found our way to a community hospital-owned outpatient lab on the way to our son’s school.

When we arrived, we were thrilled to find just one solitary person waiting in the room to be called for his test so we could be certain to avoid being late for school. However, when we presented our lab order to the registrar, she wrinkled her nose at the order from our specialist at Children’s Memorial Hopsital. Because the order had been generated by Children’s EMR and did not have a physical signature on it, the registrar’s policy said she could not accept it. I explained that the order is just as it was when I received it from our physician, however that was not sufficient for her policy. So, we left without the test as I groaned about the wasted angst for our son. The other half of this equation is that my husband had to delay his arrival at work to take our daughter to school (who would never be ready to leave earlier than necessary for school!). What a waste of his time, as well.

After this disappointment, I called our specialist’s office and the staff member there said “we don’t have this problem with any other labs.” I apologized and asked her to track down our physician to get her to physically sign the paper and fax it to our testing facility that is geographically convenient for a fasting test tackled before school during the week. She also recommended we could have the test performed in the western suburbs at a Children’s facility 35 minutes away without question. By this time, I calculated that one testing facility’s outdated policy had cost three people (the registrar, our son and myself) 20 minutes of wasted time at the facility this morning plus my husband’s lost 30 minutes at work this morning. Couple that with the Children’s staff member who took the call I wrote about and a few others in between (add 10 minutes X 2) plus the time to bother the specialist for a signature (3 minutes) and we have at least 113 minutes of life due to lack of electronic seamless discussion in healthcare.

We need to prevent this waste within the system and create a better outpatient registration experience through a higher level of coordination and communication. I invite you to share your ideas and suggestions for improving these types of situations as I know I am not the only person who experiences these. Clear Directions for Healthcare is dedicated to destroying this inefficiency in the U.S. heatlhcare system.

If you have ideas for improving America’s healthcare, I invite you to continue the dialogue here or send us a 2-minute video response that we’ll review for our video podcast. Let’s “crowdsource” our way to better healthcare for all of America. Join us!