There was an epiphany moment at this year’s Ontario Hospital Association HealthAchieve when a hospital administrator responsible for patient surveys admitted that she had been doing it all wrong. The surveys were all about the hospital’s performance, not about the patient, she said.
We are in the age of continual measurement as administrators try to reduce the business of providing health care to a series of performance data tables. One could argue that surveying patients about their care is about improving the patient experience, so one has to wonder where the sophistry ends and where practical management begins?
At this year’s conference there was plenty of angst about the role of the patient in determining how health care is delivered.
Paul Corrigan, a former health advisor to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, made a less than convincing case that health care providers should be basing their decisions around outcomes defined by the patient instead of the health professionals. Instead of a surgeon deciding a procedure has been a success, for example, that success should be defined around whether the patient achieves his or her goal to “walk to the shops,” for example. It’s perhaps a good thing that Corrigan didn’t encounter a patient whose goal was to play piano at Carnegie Hall.
“Hearing what patients are saying would be transformative,” says Corrigan, the implication being that we don’t.
Sir Nigel Crisp, a former senior manager in the UK’s National Health Service, ramped up the rhetoric by going as far as saying “professionals need to get down from their pedestals and patients up from their knees.” Seriously?