Friday, October 17, 2014

Gallbladders, Healthcare, and Hospitals - Surveying the Situation

Hello Again.

I have not posted in a long while.  I could blame poor health (more on that in a bit), a busy life, writer’s block, and on and on.  Instead, I will admit to an intellectual laziness brought on by wondering if anyone is really out there.

But, when I began writing a facebook post this morning (let’s be honest – the epitome of intellectual laziness) it became so impassioned, I had to write it here instead.

Ten days ago, I had a cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal surgery.  This came after literally 20 years of stomach issues off and on.  In the 6 weeks leading up to it when the troubles peaked, I had a rather dramatic weight loss and some even more dramatic evenings spent playing “Is It Worthy of the ER?” with concerned family members.

I will spare you the more boring details, because the point I want to make is not about this particular extremely common procedure.   It’s actually about the recent changes being made to healthcare delivery in this country, and how we have more control and responsibility than ever.

Forget that I probably spent decades with unnecessary discomfort.  I am taking responsibility for that because I didn’t push doctors hard enough, articulate my symptoms well enough, or take MYSELF seriously enough to see that I got answers.  So many avoidable things can occur because of our cultural need to “not be a pain in the ass”.

Doctors work for YOU - so treat each malady as though you are the supervisor.  But, as with all power, there is great responsibility, Grasshopper.

For starters, please read (or reread) my earlier post about your role in your communicating your health.  It rings more true to me than ever – even though I myself fell short!

Another VERY important point is about the new accountability factor for healthcare workers.  Medicine is one of the only industries I can think of where employees (everyone from the desk clerk to the surgeon), are not paid according to their performance as perceived by patients.  We have now been offered a chance to weigh in on our experiences as a patient, which will have a DIRECT effect on how much insurers pay those doctors and their staff.

I just took in the mail, and in it was a Same Day Surgery Survey from Hinsdale Hospital where I had my operation 10 days ago.  It would be easy enough to throw it away, but that would be akin to not voting, and then bitching about who became President (and we all know THOSE people.  Ahem)

Look.  Hospitals are a business.  Let’s help them be successful by doing our part in the process.  It matters and here are the major points to the individual as I see them.

-The future of insurance payments appears to also be dependent to some degree on how well you have taken care of yourself.  Obesity and smoking, for example, are going to affect how much of your portion is paid for.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

-Tell your doctor everything.  Provide information to the best of your ability, always. 

-In turn, expect a responsive, caring and tenacious effort to answer your concerns.

-Fill out ALL feedback surveys you receive.  This newly implemented step, over time, will greatly influence which doctors, nurses and other workers remain successfully in medicine.

Let me close by saying, as surgeries go, I had a pleasant as possible experience with an excellent outcome.  My team is getting two thumbs up.  But if it had gone another way, believe me they’d have heard about it.

As always, I am open to your comments and any experiences you might like to share.

Stay well.