Healthcare’s ‘Honey Do List’

There are a variety of ways for guys to prevent your spouse from adding things to the ‘Honey Do List.” I may have just created a new one.

We have several large, black exterior lights whose color has faded because of their exposure to the sun. Those faded black lights are attached to white boards, which are, in turn, attached to the home’s white stucco exterior.

I should have known better. I was trying to be helpful. Trying to do something without being asked. And so I went to the hardware store and purchased a few cans of black spray paint. Did I mention that the color of the paint is black?

The exterior lights protrude from the side of the house by about a foot. Someone smarter than me might have approached spray-painting the lights with a little more preparation. They may have approached the problem with a roll of duct tape and sheets of plastic to cover the white boards and the white stucco. Did I mention that the color of the boards and the stucco is white?

It would be easy for me to tell you that a sudden gust of gale force wind was responsible for changing the intended path of the spray paint as it left the can. But, there was no wind. The lights are once again black, but

The lights are once again black, but so are the boards and the surrounding stucco.  The refurbished lights look very good. High gloss black accentuated against a white background. Or, as it turned out, a background that is now white-ish.

Trip number two to the hardware store to buy two cans of white spray paint. White boards and white stucco, as I learned after I tried to touch up my overspray of the black paint, becomes a tad less white after ten years. So, try to picture my current dilemma. Black lights. Off-white boards and stucco. And a bright white repair job wedged between two of my new favorite colors; black and off-white. As I look at the results of my work, I am reminded of the Doctor Seuss book, The Cat In The Hat Comes Back, when the pink stain that spreads across everything confronts them.

Enough about cats.

Would you think less of me if I tell you about the voices? I was having trouble sleeping. The sheep-counting thing wasn’t working for me, so I decided to listen to the voices in my head. They gave me a choice between two tasks before they would allow me to sleep; listen to an entire Celine Dion CD, or tie together four disparate facts in a way that made sense. I opted for the facts.

Fact One: Marie Osmond’s never-ending commercial for weight loss. “I’m Marie, and I lost 50 pounds on Nutri-System.” Marie must have been really big.

Fact Two: The never-ending commercial about Mario Perillo advertising trips to Italy. “You may remember my father.”

Fact Three: The spam emails I get from someone named Olga who wants to meet me.

Fact Four: The spam emails I get from Mr. Mumbagi telling me that my uncle left me a large inheritance

And this is what I came up with.

“Can’t wait to meet you, Olga,” I replied. But I wanted to lose weight before I met Olga, so I called Marie, and asked her to tell me about her weight loss secret. Then I emailed Olga, and I suggested that she meet me in Italy. But I didn’t know anything about getting to Italy, so I called Mario Perillo’s son to find out what it cost to go to Italy—it isn’t cheap, even if you bring your own Chianti.   And that left me with no other choice than to reply to Mr. Mumbagi’s email to ask him to expedite the payment of my uncle’s inheritance.

Sooner or later, all the facts make sense. The circle of life.

The circle of life plays out pretty much the same way in healthcare. Examine these four facts—they happened to the same person who was spray-painting his exterior lights.

Fact One: A patient goes online to try to find the date and time of his appointment

Fact Two: A patient calls his health system to find out what day his appointment is. However, he does not remember the name of his doctor at the specialty practice.

Fact Three: A patient arrives for his hand surgery only to discover that the surgery does not take place at the doctor’s office.

Fact Four: A patient calls the health system to ask where he is supposed to be for surgery.

But what if our friend, the spray-painter with the bad hand, had an interactive solution from the health system that would have made facts 1-4 irrelevant? What would have happened if the interactive solution had sent him, or me, a reminder of his appointment that included the date and time and location and a map?

What would have happened is that the surgeon, after asking why my hand was covered with patches of black and white spray paint, would have performed the surgery. And the poor patient would have returned home with his hand wrapped in bandages. And the patient’s wife, who wanted to chastise him for having spray-painted the white boards and stucco black, would have seen the bandages, and she would have been sympathetic to the patient instead of asking why the stucco was black. She would have directed him to his favorite chair, put his feet up on the ottoman, turned on Fox News, and brought him a glass of kale juice.

But there was no interactive app. There was no way for the patient to learn the location of his surgery. And so, the patient returned home only to discover that a team of contractors had constructed scaffolding around his entire house, and had removed all the stucco.

Healthcare’s circle of life.

Design an interactive solution.

Save a husband.


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