28 Oct Wasting Away. Part Two.

Part One shares examples we’ve all experienced that waste our time and money in personal and business life.

Part Two is about wasting something even more important that time and money – a culture that values humans.

What system would preempt a professional health care giver from doing the right thing for a patient because pain medication orders were entered incorrectly?  The healthcare system is wasting humanity, namely the compassion of healthcare professionals and the dignity and vitality of their patients.

What is the “system?” It is a stack of hardware and software designed to reduce costs and protect institutions from liability – not to heal patients or reduce suffering.

Healthcare professionals are required to spend more time entering data than caring for patients and they are inhibited – actually prohibited – from using their good judgement when data they receive from others doesn’t make sense.

Worse. When asked to correct the problem, rather than admit there is nothing that can be done, healthcare professionals say they will fix the problem, but don’t.

When professionals are not honest, patients and their loved ones rightly distrust them as agents.

The recent controversy around dispensing pain medication is making this even worse. In this case, pain medication was not given because the pain treatment “orders” were not completely entered into the system (the admitting nurse had to leave with the stomach flu). Totally understandable. But the technology still “rules!”

And everyone points the finger at someone else.

The technologists blame human error.

The humans blame each other. The Doctor blamed the hospital which had released the patient to the rehab center.

No one cares that the patients suffer physically.  Worse, those patients who are aware also suffer emotionally from loss of control and helplessness.

In this case, the patient’s progress, which had been remarkable for someone of her age, was reversed. Her rehab will now will be longer and more expensive. The healthcare professionals appear to be preventing the patient from recovering instead of helping.

This is one avoidable, unnecessary and unacceptable reason healthcare costs are rising.

The solution is not adding more technology or regulation or agents to this flawed stack of hardware and software. It is flawed because it starts with the cognitive bias that humans are the problem. It discriminates against the good performers who know what the right thing is.

This is a perfect example of you get what you wish for. Why would those with a passion for caring for others want to work for a system that prohibits them from doing the right thing?

If you are a healthcare system that wants to attract healthcare providers with a passion for helping others, give them the permission to share what they know and work together to do the right thing to engage the patient in their recovery.