Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Patient-centric or hospital-centric healthcare


As of January of this year, I have been daily in the hospital, partly for myself and mostly for visiting my mother (who did brake her hip).
This article focuses on the experience with my own health issue.  Since April 2013 I am having some breathing issues, especially when I do some physical exercise. However, it is good to know that I do daily some sports since my 6th year or so.

After a few visits to my doctor, I was send to this newly opened (January 2014) hospital in my hometown. I have visited the cardiologist a few times, did a CT scan and bike exercises. After that I did many lung tests and visited the lung-specialist. Each time the specialist did give me a vague description of his conclusions and told me to discuss the progress with my doctor. Each specialist is strictly sticking to his own area of expertise and says nothing about possible other causes. I know because I did ask the respective specialist and each time they responded that they did have a hunch, but were not allowed to ‘pass the border’ into other areas of my body.

So, it is clear that this approach is very distant to the holistic view of a human being. Let alone the connection with and influence of the mind on our own health.
Also this brand new hospital is organized in different departments, as if we can slice up a human body and each slice can and will function on its own. These specialists are quite aware of this anomaly, but they say that the insurance companies and the hospital limit them. Some were even quite frustrated with this approach.
Customer (patient)-centricity is a buzzword in business and in healthcare for many years now, but it is a fact that hospital-centricity wins. This is really incredible!

Just as worse is the communication. The design of the offices of the specialists (heart; lungs) is done in such a way that when they look at the screen of their pc’s, they can not see the patient. This is again an example of the priority of hospital procedures over human contact.  I was even joking that one of those specialists would not recognize me as I would turn up an hour later. He would not notice that I had been there an hour ago, as he never looked me into my eyes.

One of the most frustrating approaches is that these specialist type up their conclusions, and they give you a very limited piece of information only. Then they do send this conclusion to my doctor and from him I do get the real conclusion and test results. Maybe this habit is from a long time ago when most patients were illiterate. But these days, many patients are very well informed about their health issue (upfront) and should be able to understand the conclusions of the specialists. Throughout my life I have never been qualified as dumb, but now I know how it feels like that. This is again a sad example giving more importance to hospital-centricity than to patient-centricity.

Now, people in healthcare might argue that this approach is driven from a cost-savings point of view. I am convinced that this silo-approach is much more expensive, much more frustrating for the patients and it takes much more time to come to a workable outcome. Finally, they did conclude that I have some form of asthma and they prescribed some medicine, which is work fine. This whole process took a year, costs a lot of money and could have been concluded in a month. If you would have put me and some of the most relevant specialists in a room for half an hour, have an open discussion and maybe do some tests, the conclusion would have emerged quickly and naturally.

It is clear that there is lots of room for innovation in healthcare!


Enthusiasm drives Excellence!