Where's the heART in Health Care

Posted by Ron Decker on 12/06/2012

Who sought the prize his heart described,

    And did not ask release,

Whose free-born valor was not bribed

    By prospect of a peace.


        From “The Week…” by Henry David Thoreau

Providers, facilities, equipment, Pharma and regulatory agencies are attempting to understand the rapidly changing landscape of health care. We should not lose focus of the objective; we should simplify and cut through the complexity and confusion. The science in health care can be measured and in turn can be taught, marginalized and plugged into formulas and templates. When new information, protocols and treatment plans are proven out, they are integrated into health care’s systems.

Historically, the process in simple terms was; recognize need, scientifically engineer a solution, prove the theory and market the solution to purchasers of healthcare. I know, way oversimplified, but that isn’t my focus. Recently, much of the discussion in the world of Medicine has been the pro’s and con’s of EMR or EHR systems that are on the market. The sales and marketing strategies being employed by companies offering these systems are promising staggering result’s, and in some cases are causing third-party payors to question the outcomes, i.e. documentation, behavior, etc. This marketing push has created noise into the process of product/service design and delivery to the health care market.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), whose mission “is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care for all Americans”[i], has an initiative titled “The Effective Health Care Program”. The program:

  • · Reviews and synthesizes published and unpublished scientific evidence
  • · Generates new scientific evidence and analytic tools.
  • · Compiles research findings that are synthesized and/or generated and translates them into useful formats for various audiences.

The objective is to attempt to bring clarity and reduce the varied systems of communication in the complex world of evolutionary evidence based medicine.

In a recent post, Seth Godin compellingly differentiates Industrialists from Capitalists. Seth writes, “Industrialists are not capitalists. Capitalists take risks. They see opportunity, an unmet need, and then they bring resources to bear to solve the problem… Industrialists seek stability instead.”

The challenge in health care today is not the lack of scientific data or evidence; it’s the lack of heart. The term “cognitive dissonance” refers to an understanding that something is off, not quite right… An orchestra playing a delicate piece however, one of the instruments is flat. A photograph of a beautiful model with a deflective object in the background, or a masterfully finished, fully posed human sculpture with a face empty and expressionless. And a well-trained, skilled, and caring health care provider squeezed by a scientific delivery model to the exclusion of their art.

The slippery slope in health care today is those seeking stability by implementing systems that cognitively treat illness based on the newest scientifically based treatment plans but failing to include the soul, the heartbeat, the artist who cares for the sick, hurting and wounded. At the heart of medicine is people. Caring people, who like artists, learn, develop and master their art and consequently deliver the best medicine possible in changing times.

© 2012 – Ron M Decker

Twitter – RonMDecker

[i] http://www.ahrq.gov/about/ataglance.htm

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