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The healthcare industry focuses on clinical quality outcomes at the hospital level, especially on preventable readmissions. Funders of healthcare implement both carrots and sticks (incentives and disincentives) to improve quality in this area; however, this sole approach is not enough.
Healthcare is a complex, adaptive system (as is each of our patients, practitioners and organizations), so a focus limited to hospital responsibility regarding care quality is not enough to truly make a difference.
For this discussion, let's expand our view to primary care as well.
Primary care physicians miss between 40,000 and 80,000 diagnostic opportunities per year, which lead to considerable harm to patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. These missed diagnoses often include serious illnesses, such as acute renal failure, pneumonia, cancer, angina, cellulitis, hypertension and urinary tract infections.
This month's blog post extends from both my January and February posts. In January, I shared how short-sighted financial decisions hurt patient experience.
In February, I discussed my new role as primary caregiver to my mom, suggesting that instead of focusing on patient experience, we should look at the human experience.
One comment on the January post serves as a good segue for the rest of this piece.
"Health and wellness, just as death and dying, affect all of us. Clinicians and administrators share in the wins and defeats in healthcare. As nurses, we need to be in the mix, collaborating with various stakeholders, while holding the hand of another human being to ease their suffering."
by Darlene A. Cunha
Patient care is more than healing--it's building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul.
When dealing with patients and families coping with illness, empathy is one of the greatest interventions a caregiver can bring forth. Trying to understand another's experience requires effort and intention.
People often equate empathy with sympathy. Sympathy however, is an awareness of another person's situation and is almost an automatic response--such as, "That's so terrible, I sympathize with you." Sympathy is important and is part of what humanizes a caregiver, but empathy is essential to a successful caregiver-patient relationship.
by Lynn McVey
For this month's blog post, I planned to continue my theme of expensive variations in healthcare management, particularly the variation in executive salaries between for-profit and nonprofit facilities.
Conservative estimates demonstrate the median for-profit CEO salary is around $300,000, while the median nonprofit CEO salary ranges around $600,000. Setting the national standard at the for-profit median could mean a $1.5 billion drop in healthcare spending. I now join the ranks of those writers who recently called this variation the "800-pound gorilla."
However, a personal journey I took throughout our healthcare system this week interrupted my blogging plan--when my 92-year-old father entered three hospitals via three ambulances in three days for life-saving interventions.
by Lydia Forsythe
Social intricacies surround us. As we walk through our healthcare organizations they exist whether we acknowledge them. Recognizing these social nuances is important, but not easy to do, given the many societal layers and time constraints in our busy and complex health organizations.
In particular, both explicit and implicit activities socially shape healthcare teams. It's hard for new staff and leaders to acclimate to an organization and a team, which sometimes creates retention issues. We can identify and recognize a team's social structures by giving it a voice, and enhance its presence by using a qualitative simulation activity.
Planned team simulations can open doors to understanding how we connect in our care delivery hierarchies as socially constructed professionals.
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