Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Improving the patient experience

The latest trend in medical care is focusing on the patient experience - everything from motivating doctors to provide better care to their patients to reimbursements tied to patient health and survey replies on the patient experience. The better the care, the higher the compensation. I think this is a very good idea - after all as the patients we are the most important part of the medical care system.

So some 'rocket scientists' have decided that they should improve the care level patients receive from nurses. I have always thought nurses do their best to care for the patients. They provide more direct care and TLC than any other medical professional. After decades of staff cuts for cost cutting reasons, nurses are asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer staff members to help them.

So the 'rocket scientists' have decided that the best way to improve the patient care is to provide scripts for nurses to should use in communicating with patients. I 'sure' that is the best way to improve patient care - give professionals the 'Disney' scripted version. Of course I am sure the nurses would never have come up with the proper words on their own. They are only professionals with lots of training. They could never think of the proper words on their own. I have my own ideas on how to improve patient care:
  1. Hire more nurses. All nurses I have seen, especially in in-patient situations, have way too many patients to handle them all properly. The most common complaint I have had is that I have had to wait for extended periods - hours - before nurses could get to me because they were overworked.
  2. Provide periodic training sessions to remind nurses of the new care standards.
  3. Hire more nurses. Did I already say that? Well its worth repeating.
I noticed that in the new focus of health care in Massachusetts where patients are required to have a primary care physician, more nurse practitioners and physician assistants are being hired to help fill this gap. Maybe this should extend to the in-patient scenario where nurse to patient ratios are stretched too thin? Hiring more nurses does increase costs but if the focus is on improving patient care and hospitals are compensated for this, then the costs should be less of a concern.

1 comment:

A Knutson said...

Good point. I sometimes forget the nurses are overworked.