Jonena Relth, TBD Consulting
I’ve done some “unscientific” surveying of the issue of Transparency in Healthcare and was surprised by what I found. While we often blame the older docs of being inflexible and holding back in the transparency arena, I run across docs of all ages who know that healthcare delivery must change. There are the gutsy docs willing to put their heads above the fray and open themselves up to scrutiny by their peers and patients. They ask the hard questions, pressing for why we’re still teaching and practicing medicine the same way. They ask the question of why we don’t review our standard procedures using Lean methodologies to see how medical professionals can save time and money and improve patient care.
As with any change, there are those individuals that still need to be brought over to the “light side.” Forgive my Star Wars analogy… There are still MANY doctors, old and young, who still have the “I went to medical school and thus know more than anyone else in the room. I like what I do now and don’t want healthcare to change – or at least don’t want my work to change.”
I don't have much advice for how to change the attitudes of the second group, except to:
- Keep the drums pounding…in a nice way of course.
- Allow naysayers to stand back and watch the changes happening around them but not too long. At some point, they will need to get on the bus, or the changes will pass them by.
Medical School Experiences that Show Leadership Transparency
Medical students experience both types of leadership: Transparent and Autocratic. They see firsthand transparent leadership from some docs’ autocratic leadership from those docs unwilling to open up and flex, even a little, to allow the students learn from the docs’ personal experiences that would bring the subjects to life. Yes, students are taught to memorize, assess quick, make quick decisions, but that's a different topic to address later.
As a trainer and teacher, I love to hear of times when professors share the good, the bad and the ugly with their students. It’s from these real-life experiences that the “light bulbs” turn on around the room. These professors show a transparency that shows they are “real people” working at a complex job with many variables. It helps give the students a better idea of what practicing medicine will be like from them after their LONG training journey.
Don’t jump to conclusions here, I’m not suggesting breaking HIPAA laws, just doctors showing a bit of vulnerability.
Unfortunately, in medical school, the time is so short to teach the students all the theory and science needed to practice medicine, instructors in the classroom and hospital use an autocratic teaching style to get through as much of the content they can. There isn’t time to allow for much “self-discovery” or independent thinking. That will come later when they have more experience under their belts.
Signals that Change is Not Easy for MANY
In our EMR/EHR consultancy, we see the flexible doctors willing to attend training whenever it is convenient for the organization. The inflexible doctors are the ones that still want to be trained one-on-one. My opinion is that these physicians don’t want "transparency" because they don't want others to know what they don’t know. It would bump them off their know-it-all pedestal and down with mortal men. You can’t blame them. I’m not being flip – honest. No one wants to be treated by a doctor who they think doesn’t have all the answers and thus can’t cure them. Patients choose to be treated by docs they perceive to be “the” experts. What’s sad is that these same docs and patients are kidding themselves. No one can know everything about every topic – even in their particular specialty. A very skilled doctor may know more than the next 20 people, but new information is found every day and no one has the time to learn everything new every day and keep up with their patient load.
I have the utmost admiration for those who choose the medical field as their choice of profession. It is often a lonely, selfless job that keeps practitioners away from their families and forces them to trade “personal time” for being on call at night, weekends and holidays. It is, however, time for all healthcare professionals to take a good look and accept that our world, our patients and healthcare delivery are changing. Hopefully more healthcare professionals will choose improved, transparent, care delivery by involving others, especially holding patients ultimately mutually accountable for our own care.
It’s not a one-way street – patients need to change, as well.
The time is now that patients must start taking responsibility for how we treat our bodies and learn how they work. Ok, so in a perfect world, patients would know that "we are what we eat" and also know that we all need exercise and a will power to avoid things that harm our health. If we do this, doctors will have a much easier time treating our illnesses and helping to make us healthier. Sounds logical to those of us "A" type personalities, but we have a long way to go to get here!
Please share your experiences with us about doctors – young and not so young – who are modeling transparent healthcare. I know they are out there. If you are a champion of transparent healthcare, please let us hear from you so we can learn from you!
Here’s a short list of my current transparent healthcare heroes. These docs are in the trenches speaking out for reforming healthcare delivery. They have all earned the right to be heard.
And folks, leadership is where it has to begin!
- Dr. Michael Koriwchak; Read one of Michael's blog posts: MD – Techy Doc Who Puts Patients’ Needs First
- Dr. Stephen C. Schimpff; Read one of Stephen's blog posts: Innovative Technologies Can Markedly Enhance Safety or check out his book: The Future of Health-Care Delivery: Why It Must Change and How It Will Affect You
- Dr. John Toussaint
Then there are the holdouts… but we’re working on ‘em!