If an outpatient falls in the woods, does it make a noise?

There are three ways in which bipods can err.  We can make mistakes, make a social faux pas, or we can just be stupid.  A mistake is something like doing long division and forgetting to carry the one. An example of a social faux pas is practicing your one-man recital of Les Misérables on the flight home from the Beryl conference and because you’re wearing headphones forgetting that those who aren’t can hear you.  Being stupid involves something like being on the train to DC and hoping that you left your car keys in the car, because if you didn’t you will either be sleeping on the streets of Wilmington tonight or filing a police report and hoping they recover your new car.

So in the last twenty-four hours I have accomplished two of the three, and in case you are wondering, no, I was not doing any long division.  So, that was my day.  How was yours?

If you stay abreast of all of the comings and goings in healthcare, one of the first things you note is that there are a lot of comings and goings.

One of the more popular comings is trying to associate recoveries—recoveries of mistakes—by tying them to patient management.  Think of complaint letters, missteps, and plain old mistakes.

Recoveries are a good thing.  But before we waive the flag too loudly and shout look at me, perhaps we ought to see whether all we are doing is blowing out the match that started the forest fire.

Case in point.  We can only correct what we can see.  And, we can only see what we look at or at what we want to see—woe to those with eyes who cannot see.

It seems that in the realm of patient experience the only thing that people can see is inpatients.  The line of outpatients could be wrapped around the block, but if nobody is looking, they do not matter.  The same is true with discharged patients, former patients, and people trying to schedule a first appointment.

These are the people who make up the forest that is burning while everyone is putting policies and procedures in place to blow out the match.  If you are going to try to improve patient experience by not only dealing with recovery issues, let alone walking back the cat to prevent them, why not raise all of the boats—doesn’t work well with the match metaphor, but I’m feeling a bit punkish today.

What do you think?

While you mull this over I’ll be singing Bring Him Home while I am looking for my car.

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