Maybe it’s because I’m not a physician, a nurse or any other type of health care provider. Maybe it’s because I’m merely a dull-witted heart attack survivor. Maybe it’s because I spent virtually all of my 35+ year professional career in the field of public relations. But the reality is that I seem to think about health care more like a marketer than the average person might, and as such, I’ve been puzzled for some time about recent quality of care debates on whether patients should be considered “consumers” or not.
In one debate camp, you have doctors like Dr. Atul Gawande, whose Big Medarticle in The New Yorker caused apoplectic sputtering among some of his colleagues when it was published last August. That’s because Dr. Gawande touted a national restaurant chain as a potential model of the kind of standardization and quality that have been so lacking in health care. Continue reading “Why the Harvard Business Review was wrong about patients”→
Texas author, artist and book industry journalist Melissa Mia Hall once wrote: “When I need help writing book reviews, my dog Daisy is always eager to lend a paw.” After trying to lift Daisy recently, Melissa felt an odd pain in her chest. She told her editor at Publishers Weekly that she had pulled a muscle. She later emailed a friend:
After I was discharged from the Coronary Care Unit following my heart attack, I felt puzzled because, other than a pile of reading material about heart-healthy eating, I was pretty well booted out the door with virtually no follow-up care plan once I got home.
So when my friend Viv’s daughter Kate phoned me a few days later (Kate happens to be a cardiac nurse at CCU), I had an endless list of panicky questions for her about my surprisingly distressing ongoing chest pains along with dozens of other issues. I was convinced that another heart attack was imminent – an extremely terrifying prospect for a freshly diagnosed heart patient. She was able to answer my questions (“Sounds like what we call stretching pain – very common!”) and reassured me that I just might make it through another day alive.
Canadian researchers in Ottawa have developed a simple tool for hospital staff to predict the probability that patients like me, discharged directly from hospital back to the community, will be readmitted – or die – within 30 days.