Saturday, November 1, 2008

Healthcare and Baseball?

With the World Series still top-of-mind for many people the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece that should be of interest to both healthcare providers and baseball fans alike. The article is called:

How to Take American Health Care From Worst to First

Now, I have heard of "Moneyball" before. It was discussed in a few of my MBA classes, including a case that looked at the value of Alex Rodriguez (ARod). At the time I thought that these cases and examples were a way of convincing us lazy MBAs that 'doing the number crunching' was fundemental to understanding the business problems we were studying. Now it appears that a 'data-driven' approach to healthcare could be just around the corner. I think this is a great idea, but I see a major shift needed to implement the idea.

Currently, many hospitals are still relying on paper charts to record patient information. I use a pen to write down patient information that I think is relevant (which, as an orthopedic surgeon-in-training isn't all that much...). There are other binders that contain medication information and another clipboard that has patient vital signs recorded. To transfer that data to one database for analysis would be an epic and frustrating job.

An electronic medical record (EMR) could solve that problem (and will be here in Winnipeg at St. Boniface Hospital, where an EMR is currently being implemented). What isn't so easy to change is the attitude of providers. There's a fear of 'being watched' that even I get when I think about having my every move catalogued on an EMR. That being said, I know that analysing patient data will protect me and standardize my practice, probably improving patient outcomes and reducing medical errors.

Personally, I'd rather think about ways to advance medicine than try to remember thousands of drug dosages and treatment protocols. Having an EMR and data-driven medicine shouldn't feel like being watched by big should give physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners a sense of security, freedom and hope that we are improving the care of patients.

Coming soon: What should data-driven medicine use as potential measures of care. I'll think of some, but I also want to see what readers have to say. How would you track patient outcomes and care performance?


Karyn's thoughts! said...

I can relate to the comment about having your every move watched. I can attest to the fact that even the simple task of booking an appointment and having my name attached to that appointment causes me to carefully think through my actions and think-twice before pressing the "Enter" key.

I personally think we need more personal accountability, if that is the correct word, when it comes to healtchare (and other aspects of life). Far too often I have seen colleagues knowingly put the blame to someone else for their mistakes. Despite the resistance of this new method I think it will turn out to be a step in the right direction.

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