First, let me say thank you to all my shipmates who have served our great country. I wish I could buy each and every one of you coffee and hear your story. I am honored to have served beside so many amazing Americans. I hope you and your families all had a happy Memorial Day.
Our topic this month is patients – the most important part of our business, and the reason we are all here. Although the home health and hospice world gets bogged down with regulations and the business side of care, serving the aging population is a calling for most of us who call this industry home. We love our patients and work tirelessly every day to improve their quality of care.
Patient access to care is a step that all of us, whether in the industry or not, will tackle at some point in our lives. As our family members age, it becomes more of a reality.
Recently, my grandmother was diagnosed with a severe type of Melanoma. Grandma Faye is one of the toughest people I know. She is a young 92 (She retired at 85 from working in the restaurant industry. No one provided better customer service than she did!), but like others aging, it is taking its toll on her.
Being a seasoned veteran in the home care and hospice space, you would think getting Grandma admitted to home care would be a snap for my family. It wasn’t. Grandma continues to tell the family, “I should have trained all these people on customer service. If they worked in my business, they would not make it because their customers would never come back to the restaurant.” Grandma is probably right.
As my family pushed through all the necessary admit phone calls and paperwork from 1,056 miles away (Grandma lives in Amarillo, Texas), we were faced with the difficult, redundant and sometimes annoying questions she was being asked.
Name, number and address of your primary care physician?
Name, number and address of your oncologist?
Have you ever had surgery? What and when?
Have you ever been admitted to the hospital? When and why?
When was the last time you ate? What was it?
Do you have allergies? If so, what?
Pharmacy? Which location?
Do you have a family history of diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer?
As we all know, that list goes on and on.
How were we, her family members, going to answer all these questions? Shame on us for not knowing the answers. We can’t blame Grandma. She’s 92.
My guess is this isn’t the first time Grandma has answered these exact questions. I am sure they are all stored in one of five different medical records at her physician offices and hospital EMRs. Not only is Grandma exhausted by these questions (it’s annoying to have to repeat yourself in general, but especially when you’re undergoing traumatic cancer treatment), but I’m sure every physician she visits is tired of asking and reviewing these questions.
Grandma’s story is identical to so many other patients’. It highlights what most of us already know: We are wasting so much time and money in healthcare by not fixing the challenge of patient data access.
The purpose of this article is not to make you feel sorry for me, my family or Grandma Faye. Her outcome is in God’s hands and we will follow his lead. The purpose of this article is to motivate us to remember why we all got into this – to make life for the patient and family easier. If we all continue to think and talk about how to fix patient challenges, together we will find a solution.
Make doing business with us easier has been my mission statement for many years. I have spent the better part of my career looking for ways to leverage technology to streamline processes and make things in healthcare easier. Putting Grandma Faye through our existing processes motivates me to continue to ask: Is there an easier, less intrusive way to organize and access patient information so we can make all of our grandmothers’ experiences better?
Please call on me directly or any of my amazing team members to chat more about this or to help you review your processes to improve patient care. Next month we will be talking about challenges faced by financial teams. Please take care of each other and remember to be kind to everyone.
*Photo courtesy of flickr.