Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Twenty Four Seven Medical Care

It has always aggravated me that if you get sick on a weekend you either wait until Monday to see a doctor or end up at the Emergency Room which is the wrong place to be unless it is a true emergency. And the horror stories of the surgical errors over the weekends because the only surgeon on call was two hours away.... I will admit that this has improved in recent years with the advent of more walk in clinics and longer hospital hours. But, we get sick and stay sick 24/7/365.

And the worst is having to wait all weekend for test results. Why can't someone read the damn test results and tell us on Saturday instead of making us wait until Monday for an answer? Any cancer person is familiar with this issue

Forbes Magazine wrote an article recently on New Year's Resolutions The Key Players in Healthcare Should Make. This issue shows up on the third page, after recommendations for doctors to improve their practices and synching electronic medical records.

So why do hospitals essentially close down on weekends? I completely understand administrative offices working a five day work week and the convenience of having all the staff available at the same time for better communication, yada, yada, yada. But why do medical staff also work only Monday-Friday? We don't just get sick between 8 and 5 on Mondays to Fridays?

There is always the complaint about too many patients coming in. But what if the hospital hours for medical care were stretched over seven days instead of five? The staff could still work the same number of hours but just over a longer period of time. And if you get a medical test, you don't need to wait for someone to read the damn report. If you were admitted over the weekend, you don't need to wait until Monday for surgery to be scheduled. I can go on.

'Bankers hours' medical care should be a thing of the past. The only people who benefit from being hospitalized over the weekend is the hospital - they get to bill the insurance companies for more nights' stays. Wouldn't it be better for the patient to be operated on over the weekend and then get out of the hospital?

What if hospitals were open for care half the time instead of a quarter (five nine hour days = 45 hours/week or 26.7%) of the time? What if hospitals were open 7am-7pm Monday - Sunday? Waits for appointments would be shorter. More patients could be treated. Patients who work full time could see doctor's at more convenient times. This is only 50% of the time, not 24/7/365 but its a big step toward more access.

I know this would require more staff but then hospitals would have less down time and would operate more efficiently and their expensive testing and surgical equipment would get used more and therefore be more profitable. And the patient's would be better treated and less stressed - quicker access to care and more information on their conditions.

Just an idea... I'm just a professional patient who hates waiting to find out the answers.

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