Patients Qualified To Yelp Doctors

Last night my friend and mentor Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC) highlighted her recent post on Medium entitled: “Patients As A Prop.”

Marie’s post pointed me to an opinion piece written by Niam Yaraghi  (@niamyaraghi) for the USA Today. (Niam is a fellow at Brookings Institute’s Center for Technology Innovation with a special focus on healthcare economics and health information) Niam’s post titled, “Don’t Yelp Your Doctor” discusses whether or not patients are capable or qualified to evaluate their physicians.

Niam says,

“Patients are neither qualified nor capable of evaluating the quality of the medical services that they receive.”

“If patients are not qualified to make medical decisions and rely on physicians’ medical expertise to make such decisions, then how can they evaluate the quality of such decisions and know that their doctor’s decision was the best possible one?”

Niam’s main recommendation is that he believes there are better metrics available online that identifies the quality of care. Metrics such as effectiveness of care at a hospital, experience of physicians in performing a specific medical procedure, and nurse to patient ratios at nursing homes.

Unfortunately I have to disagree.

When I go to a restaurant or a financial advisor, I expect that they follow some industry standards and rules in order to do business. I expect that the restaurant is clean, follows hand washing hygiene, prepares my food in a clean environment, does not cross contaminate uncooked chicken with the food that is already prepared, does not prepare food that is outdated, spoiled, or old, prepares my food in a way that diminishes my likelihood to get salmonella or e. coli, and that they hire a chef that has some credentials.

When I go to Yelp, I want to know if people like me enjoyed the food, had a good “experience” and that they paid a fair price.

The same goes for my healthcare.

I expect that the care team is qualified, certified, and educated. I assume that everyone employed by the hospital or physician office is following basic rules and guidelines. I expect the physician and nurse to wash their hands, follow sterile procedures, take precautions to prevent nosocomial infections, and that they are using the most appropriate technology to identify what is wrong with me, and then sharing that information with me to recommend the most ideal options to make me better.

In my opinion, these are the basic requirements to do business in healthcare. Many of the above requirements are metrics I expect to be tracked, performed, and dealt with behind the scenes.

When people ask me for a recommendation about the “best hospital” or the “best doctor” what I discover is that patients and families want me to confirm if they will be treated as a number or as a person.

A doctor can have 20 years of experience in doing a specific surgery. That same doctor may be using the same exact technique 20 years later. Why? As I hear often in healthcare, “Because this is they way I have always done it.” Other times I hear, “This is how we do things here.”

Great. I applaud you.

You are “cook booking” my care. No innovation.

It doesn’t matter if I am a man or a woman, if I am young or old, if I want to go fast or slow, you will treat me the same. I am a cog in the factory of healthcare.

Patients go to the people they trust and are connected with for recommendations. Patients want to find others with similar problems, challenges, aches, pains, and diagnosis to realize that they are not alone. Patients are human. We do not want to be the only one; we want to know that there are others in this world similar to us.

Going online is the easiest way for us to connect and find other patients like us.

As a patient, we do not want a doctor; we want to find a physician.

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 9.37.23 AMThis is where the “innovation” in healthcare exists.

Each hospital and care team has a group of rules and standards that they must follow in order to do business and be reimbursed. Each hospital, physician, and care team has access to technology, pathways, certifications, and guidelines. I have never met a doctor that didn’t graduate in the “top of their class.”

As patients we want to find the physician that is going to take the time to understand our expectations specific to our care. We want to identify the physician, care team, and hospital that will include us in the decision making process. The team that will explain all treatment options with me, will address and answer all of my questions, and that will share and distribute to me my lab results, my physician notes, as well as my images.

Unfortunately, the payers, the politicians, and the providers do not have the ability to rate those measures. (4P’s of Healtcare)

Patients are the only ones qualified, capable, and knowledgeable to make those recommendations. Patients are the only one of the 4P’s that can measure whether or not someone is a doctor or a physician.

I personally do not want a friend or a loved one to seek care at a McDonald’s hospital. I want my friends and loved ones to seek care at the Motto’s of the world.

A hospital full of physicians, nurses, and care teams that are pushing the boundaries of their own industry, that are inclusive, collaborative, and will take the time to treat me as a person.

Patients want a care team that creates “art” with us and for us.

“I am a Picasso not a Thomas Kinkade.”

Patients want a team that treats them as an N of 1.

Patients want a team that realizes that the patient is the only one capable and qualified to measure their success in creating the “art of healing.”

The innovation is in the art.

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

~CancerGeek

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