From the Chief Medical Officer's Desk
by Dr. Dave Edwards
“I'm utterly convinced that we are all here for one another and that every experience that everyone is having is relevant. It all counts. The Universe is so extraordinarily well-designed that it needs all those experiences.” - R. Buckminster Fuller- architect and inventor, best known- Geodesic Dome
Often I hear from physicians that the patient’s experience really doesn’t measure the quality of care. Though Buckminster talks about the totality of experiences needed in the universe, the same is true in understanding the quality of a patient’s encounter with health care.
Having watched recently from the other side, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of the patient’s experience as a measure of quality. We become accustomed to the shock and reaction of the bad news we sometimes deliver and forget the natural human consequences that follow. Within the denial and bargaining, patients can selectively remember or alter memories of what is said. The impact on decision making and the ability to follow instructions and compliance are profound. These have an effect on the medical outcome and hence quality of care.
Sometimes we cannot cure and at best work to control or mitigate a serious illness. However, we must not lose sight of our ability to heal and relieve suffering, that emotional and spiritual component to illness. This can be difficult in our frenetic pace currently in health care. It can take time and expose our own humanity to know or grok* them. Healing is as important as anything else we do. The measures of the patient experience may be a surrogate marker for the “healing” we do.
To continue to improve the care we deliver, we need to better engage our partners in healing, the patients and their families.
* Grok- a term coined by author Robert A. Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land meaning- to share the same reality or line of thinking with another entity.