By Kim Bellard, February 22, 2017
I hate being a patient.
My exposure to the health care system has mostly been through my professional life or through the experiences of friends and family. The last few days, though, I unexpectedly had an up-close-and-personal experience as a hospital inpatient.
I offer what I consider the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the experience.
The Good: The People
The various people involved in my care, from the most highly trained physician to the person who delivered meals, were great. I loved my nurses. I liked my doctors a lot. The aides, the lab techs, the imaging tech, the transportation specialists -- all of them doing jobs that I wouldn't be able to do -- were each friendly and helpful, taking pride in what they did and how it helped my care.
The Bad: The Processes
On the other hand, on the lists of criticisms about our health care system, many of its rules and processes truly do deserve a place. They're like part of an arcane game no one really understands.
I'll offer three examples:
- · Check-in
- · NPO
- · Discharge
The Ugly: The Technology
Oh, health care technology. It is equally capable of delighting as it is of frustrating. It is truly remarkable that the doctor could go up my arm to perform a procedure in my chest, just as the detail an MRI provides is simply astonishing.
Let's start with the perennial whipping boy, EHRs. On many occasions, EHRs did not mean that people did not still often have to drag in other electronic equipment or even paper in order for them to do their job.
MRIs are a wonderful technology, but as I was laying in that claustrophobic tube getting imaged, I kept thinking: what the heck are all those clanging noises?
I was on various forms of monitoring devices, the smallest of which was the size of a 1980's cell phone and still required countless wires attached to numerous leads. I kept wondering, hmm, have these people heard of Bluetooth? Do they know about wearables?
My favorite example of ugly technology, though, came when I had to fill out a form, so that it could be faxed to the appropriate department.
No health care system is perfect. Every system has its own version of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Our system can do better. Let's give all those great people working in health care a better chance to help us.