Diagnosis Is King In Healthcare

diagnosis 2

How often do you, or a friend, or someone you know wake up and notice that something is wrong? Maybe it is a headache. Maybe a cough. Maybe it is lower back pain. Maybe you shrug it off for a day, or two days, or maybe even a week.

You finally come to the conclusion that something is wrong.

You ask, “What is wrong with me?”

You want to know what is wrong. You want to answer the “what” as quickly as possible. You also expect the answer to be as correct as possible.

The “what” question in medical terms is equivalent of a diagnosis. What is wrong with me is the same thing as asking what is my diagnosis?

If it were a mathematical equation, it may look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.18.43 PMA diagnosis for the majority of patients is made of up of the following components:

1. Radiology, or image(s): this is an internal GPS-like image of the body. It allows a radiologist (physician) to locate, identify, and see what is the cause of your “what” question. If there is something there, it also allows the physician to take a sample if required.

2. Pathology: (I am including lab work with pathology) this is where that tissue is then prepared, placed onto slides, and viewed under a microscope to look at the cells. The tissue may also be prepared to have additional testing performed. This testing can look at biological changes, changes in the blood, the cells, or genetic changes. All of these tests allow a pathologist (physician) to give a name to the “what” question.

3. Time: Self explanatory.

4. Patient: You

What puzzles me is that the majority of healthcare related articles, tweets, posts, topics, pins, IG’s, and discussions focus on the question “how?” How do we treat patients?

The majority of what healthcare focuses on from a cost perspective is related to the treatment.

afforadable diagnosis

Yet in my own experience, I have noticed that the more we focus on the “what” question, the diagnosis, the more impact we have to the cost curve.

The better we define what is wrong with a patient, the better we can choose the right treatment, at the right time, for the right patient. More accurate diagnosis, better selection of the right treatment the first time. Less opportunity for complications. Less chance of wasting a treatment that could have been used for another patient. The more quickly a patient returns to their every day routine.

When we focus on answering the “what” question, we increase the meaningful dialogue between patients and the rest of the healthcare team. We increase the success of patients wanting to be a part of their care. We improve the satisfaction of patients and healthcare staff.

Defining the “what” question may not be as glorious or news worthy as jumping to the “how” question. However, the “what question” is the most important to patients.

The “what” question IS the easiest way for us to shape an improved cost curve in healthcare.

Diagnosis is king. It dictates how and where the army needs to go to protect the kingdom. To give the kingdom the best opportunity to survive.

Army is the team of healthcare providers and clinicians.

The kingdom is the patient.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek



3 responses to “Diagnosis Is King In Healthcare

  1. I agree wholeheartedly that a correct diagnosis is extremely important. I stop short of necessary, because it is not always possible to make a diagnosis even after comprehensive expert evaluation, and this does not mean that the patient should receive neither treatment nor care.

    That said, this post misses the single most important tool for making a diagnosis. HISTORY. I was taught early in my career (35+ years ago) that if the diagnosis hadn’t at least occurred to me while doing the history, I was unlikely to find it with lab or radiologic studies, but if I did enough tests without a diagnosis in mind, I would find many, many things which had nothing to do with the ongoing illness but which needed to be pursued.

    You also fail to mention physical examination.

  2. I think people want to know the “what” and the “how”. How does your diagnosis inform the treatment? Transparency in this process can be really powerful.

  3. Pingback: Patients Created Crowdsourcing | CancerGeek

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