Infections, medication errors, and hospital readmission are all topics in the lay press that raise everyone’s concerns. But what is a person to do when they are admitted or have a loved one in the hospital? This is a very important question and the answers are illusive despite the mounds of articles, press releases, and gazillions megabits of political rhetoric.
As an industry, healthcare has done a good job identifying many of its problems and as a result there are plenty of businesses circling the scarred, and even bleeding, hospitals promising to heal those wounds. Clinicians, administrators, and regulators attend conferences, discuss ways of managing these problems and infuse one another with the hope for change and the courage to take on these herculean tasks.
Where are our patients and families in this morass of unknowns and partial solutions? How do they become active participants in their hospital care? They are told “Ask Questions”, be proactive, and seek second opinions but how often does a patient feel safe enough to do one of those things?
If you have been a patient or cared for a love one in the hospital then you understand the need to feel safe when you are so vulnerable. Recently, the Samueli Institute hosted an impressive…interactive…conference “Patients at the Crossroads” where patients were part of the conversation. Care is about a conversation, isn’t it? And a good conversation means we Listen to one another so we can understand the message. This is patient centeredness.
Time is not on the patients’ or the clinicians’ side. Status quo is gone, but what is ahead is very unclear at this point. The unintended consequences of a new law are yet to surface. If clinician/patient partnerships can form quickly there is a powerful opportunity to steer the future in the direction of real patient centered care.