I had the opportunity to visit with a radiation oncologist and his staff this week and we discussed a technology acquisition that they are working through. When I came in for the discussion, it was apparent that everyone is focusing on the box versus the patient.
Healthcare Challenge: We have a limited budget and we need to get a scanner that will allow us to acquire images to do treatment planning for radiation oncology. We would also like to be able to do PET-CT as well. We want to be a center of excellence. We also have the occasional larger patient that we need to care for and image. Patients expect to get all of their care here.
Physician Solution: We are focusing on the technology that would allow us to have a “Swiss Army Knife” so we can care for all of our patients. Bigger is better due to the fact that we may have the occasional larger patients.
My Comments: I stood and drew the following picture on the board:
Purchasing a box that allows you to care for all patients may be good for you and your department. However, is it the best option for the patients in your community and for the healthcare system?
Opportunity: If you have limited dollars and a few patients that may need a different type of technology based on their diagnosis or even size, then leverage the healthcare system to deliver the best possible treatment, for that patient, when it is needed. If you have a dialogue with a patient, define their expectations upfront prior to treatment, and allow them to understand the story as to why they may need to go someplace else for part of the workup, most will understand.
In addition, all of the patients that can receive care locally, will now have access to new programs that can be developed due to the purchase. Understanding the needs of the community, the patients within your service area, and the strategy of the entire healthcare system is an overall better use of dollars when acquiring technology.
I pushed the radiation oncologist to realize that even though technology is great and he may want a “Swiss Army Knife” that he is being shortsighted.
1. Medical oncologists will ultimately drive the success of the program if they are looking towards PET-CT.
2. They may want to consider developing a lung screening program, along with a pulmonary nodule clinic.
3. They may want to develop a watch and wait program for prostate cancer and leverage the new technology.
4. What are their plans for a surveillance program?
5. Do you have a dialogue with your patients to understand their expectations before you begin the journey? Do you reconnect to make sure you are delivering on those needs and adjusting based on the patient?
Conclusion: In a perfect world there would exist a one size fits all. However, in the world of healthcare, it is typically a one size needs to fit most. Technology is technology. It is the people, the programs, the process, and the dialogue that matters to most patients.
My recommendation was to rethink the overall story of what patients in the community expect, want, and need. Build out that understanding and then make selections based on meeting the majority of the needs, and knowing you can leverage other system resources to deliver on the few patient expectations you cannot meet.
It’s always a story about a patient. As long as you enable the patient to write the best possible story, they will understand needing to go to someplace different to write one of the chapters.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
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