Monday, March 10, 2008

Everyone that’s taken care of me….the whole bunch…they worked him so hard, it was what he really needed…three stories. It’s what keeps me coming back

“Everyone that’s taken care of me, the whole bunch…you have very special people working here…because of all of them, they have given me a great deal of comfort and peace of mind…I am just not used to seeing that in other places I have been. This is just a very special of caring where everyone really cares.”

As CEO of this hospital, hearing comments from patients and their family members, such as the above words recently used to describe the team of health care professionals and colleagues comprising the ACH family, makes me feel proud to be part of the team.

Every so often things don’t go perfectly, but that too is what makes this place so special. Many of the colleagues I work with, including the physicians who practice here and the volunteers who give us their valuable time, are constantly talking, discussing, and listening to help us deal with all the imperfections and frustrations that our patients and guests deal must endure…for as good as we are, things happen.

Mr. James G. called this week, saying, “The ER team was great…I went to therapy for two weeks, every other day…the passion of the whole bunch taking care of me was obvious.The whole bunch was at it again in therapy.”

I thanked Mr. G. for taking the time to call me and let me know how he felt about the Colleagues caring for him.

I applaud our medical leadership because they are pushing administration and the board to be more public and proactive about Quality issues; encouraging what we do well and highlighting what we need to improve upon. They are working hard at looking at the way medical staff itself conducts it business and have embraced evidence-based medicine, which is not an easy thing to do.

Mrs. R. called to talk about her son’s therapy, saying, “We were so very happy with the services our son received. He had a terrible accident and was treated at Akron Children’s Hospital, but we wanted to be closer to home so we chose Alliance Community. Gail, Erin, Walt, Tiffany. All who called for our son worked him so hard and got him doing things we could not get him to do...he is now able to go back to school. We just felt so very welcome when we came…believe it or not but our son actually looks forward to going back and seeing his friends at therapy. A truly great experience. Thank you for giving us our son back...”

It takes a very special person to admit you could have done better, to apologize sincerely, to show that you care, to be open and honest, to want to improve, to accept constructive criticism, to hold others accountable for trying to be the best, to want to be better…to truly put the patient at the center of what we do. Because of all of you do, thank you for inspiring me to do the same.

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Healthcare is the Economy:

I read, with great interest, Todd Sloane’s editorial entitled “The New Insurance Backlash” in the February 25th issue of Modern Healthcare. To me, one of the most telling lines was, “On January 23, the day Wellpoint reported a 8% gain in 2007 profits (to $3.35 billion), its share price fell by $2.90 because it also reported that it spent almost two cents more of each premium dollar on –wait for it- patient care.”

I truly believe one could make a good argument that healthcare is the number one issue in this year’s election. It is the biggest challenge affecting the ability of both big and small businesses to compete.

Below, I offer my own assumptions or definitions that are necessary to frame my conclusion for a combined Hillary/Obama/Huckabee/McCain plan – one that would fit well with Bernake’s suggestions for stimulating economic growth. So how would this work?

It would work, I believe, in a free market, competitive system. One with a fair and level playing field and--let’s face it-- the consumers of healthcare don’t have the information they need on quality and especially on price (i.e. money they will spend out of their own pockets). We have been preaching transparency, but truly have done very little about it because of all (issues posed by) the special interests; primarily insurance companies. Hilary and Obama would like to limit the amount of premium dollars that go to insurance companies. Under that theory, hospitals and doctors certainly could perform better and if healthcare consumers knew what they had to pay for in advance of many of procedures/tests they would certainly shop around for the best price.

We have been working on quality data for years and if we truly want peer review to work, we must do something about malpractice. However, I am encouraged that some doctors and hospitals are sharing their complication rates and mortality statistics with other key information on their websites. We don’t need a single payer system but we could certainly use a single payment system that is much simpler and makes individuals more accountable for themselves; we do need more of a wellness system than our current sick care system.

There is a lot that could change and bring both parties together and provide the stimulus for doctors and hospitals to improve as well; let’s quit talking about transparency and do something about it.