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A “Third Place” In Healthcare: What We Can Learn From Starbucks

Media reports on misdiagnosis continue to mount. A recent study on patients with Alzheimer’s found that half had been misdiagnosed. Half.

Another headline blared “4 out of 10 patients being misdiagnosed.” The article encouraged patients to “see another doctor” if they are worried about their diagnosis.

You know what it makes me think about? Starbucks. Why? Because the way Starbucks revolutionized coffee drinking shows a way forward for healthcare.

Starbucks realized that since our lives focus on two places — home and work — most of us don’t have a “third place” to go. A place where we can be free of everyday distractions and take care of ourselves. Starbucks set out to create that “third place” by making its shops comfortable, inviting places. It works. “Third place” makes customers’ lives better — and Starbucks has almost 20,000 shops to prove it.

It’s time for a kind of “third place” in healthcare. Healthcare focuses on two places, too: The doctor’s office and the hospital. Both places are difficult for patients. Patients complain of not getting enough time from their overworked doctors, and studies of things that go wrong in hospitals are equally disturbing.

There really isn’t a “third place” to go to in healthcare. Somewhere that you can step outside of the difficult process of being sick. Somewhere you can get a quiet, clear perspective of what is going on.

Now, some people are lucky and can turn to relatives or friends who are doctors to provide some of that “third place” experience. But most people can’t. At Best Doctors, we’re creating the experience of a healthcare “third place.” We do it by taking the time to review each case, have doctors think about what’s happening, consult with experts, and share advice. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

A Doctor’s Brain: The Most Important Piece Of Healthcare Technology

Some people may tell you that healthcare IT will solve many of the quality and cost problems in healthcare. I don’t believe them.

I know a 70-year old man named Carlos (not his real name) who was hospitalized following a bout of hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the skull, which affects the brain. Among other things, people with hydrocephalus can be confused, irritable, and nauseous. Carlos had all of these symptoms.

Carlos’ problem was fixable by inserting a special kind of drain in his head called a “shunt.” This kind of shunt is, essentially, a series of catheters that runs from the brain into the abdomen, and which drain the excess fluid. You can’t see it from the outside, so it’s meant to stay inside of you for a very long time.

For a week after Carlos’ shunt was installed, his symptoms completely disappeared. But they soon started to re-emerge. Worried, his family took him to the hospital. Doctors found that his hydrocephalus was back — the shunt wasn’t draining properly. They admitted him to the hospital, and the next day they put in a new shunt. The surgery went well.

But again, about a day later, he started to have the same kinds of symptoms. The doctors sent him for a CT scan, which showed, to their surprise, no problems with the shunt. Unsure of what to do, they decided to wait and see if the symptoms resolved. It was possible, they thought, that the symptoms were from the quick drainage of fluid through the shunt. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Go To A Famous Hospital, Get Better Care?

Hospital rankings matter. Specifically, those published in U.S. News & World Report carry additional weight. Hospitals use these numbers in advertising campaigns, and patients often choose hospitals based on these rankings.

But does a high place really mean you’re getting better care? Not necessarily. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

These Nursing Shoes Are Made For Walking

Do you remember this person? She is a bedside nurse. She walks up and down hospital hallways in her white nursing shoes all day long while caring for her patients. She is trained for active duty. I’m asking you this question because nursing researchers have had an epiphany. They believe that they have discovered something new in the field of bedside nursing.

Over the years I’ve observed that the more degrees and letters that a lot of academic nurses get behind their name, the more out of touch they become with bedside nursing. This came to light once again when I attended a mandatory inservice at work. I was told that we were going to talk about an innovative concept that was going to revolutionize patient care and the nursing profession. Imagine my surprise when the speaker talked about hourly rounds. Did you know that nursing researchers have discovered that patients are happiest when their nurses spend time with them at the bedside every hour, and anticipate their needs? Wow, what a concept. Academic nurses living in the ivory tower of higher learning have discovered through years of painstaking research that patients also want nurses to answer their call light promptly when they need help getting to the bathroom. Holy cow! Hourly rounds decreases the amount of time patients spend using their call lights, decreases injuries due to patient falls, and increases patient satisfaction while they are in the hospital.

Did I miss something? I remember learning all this stuff years ago when I was attending a lowly diploma nursing program. We were always walking up and down the halls in our nursing shoes. No one conducted studies on how to make patients happy back then. A little common sense goes a long ways. The formula to good patient care starts with clean bed sheets and a filled water pitcher, and ends with a connection to your patient. That’s not new. That’s nursing.

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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