Friday, July 24, 2009

Stick It

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Q:  What’s more annoying than a worn-out cliché?

A:  A worn-out cliché that keeps on proving itself right.

Measurement is a key component of Advanced Access. For us, it’s been a source of enlightenment and discovery. While we continue to use many of the same measuring sticks that we started off with, we’ve added some new measuring sticks that have yielded some surprises.

I’ve been telling you about our efforts to reduce recall rates/internal demand. Those tests of change (call them PDSAs if you must) arose after we tallied the number of patients each urologist was asking to come back for a repeat visit. I presumed that all of us had pretty similar practice habits, but some of our staff thought that those habits varied considerably. So we did some counting. The initial data is in “Bang for your Buck”. While we don’t know whether the higher rates or lower rates of recall are more clinically appropriate, our guess was that we could provide the same quality of care, yet have necessary follow-up provided in a setting other than a specialist office.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pyrrhic Victory

During recent lobbying for his health care reform platform, US President Obama praised organizations such as Intermountain Health for being role models in providing high-quality care, without skyrocketing costs. Obama echoed comments made by a senior Intermountain executive: “Much of the rest of the country tends to focus on the volumes of health care services they provide, because that's what the system rewards, rather than the care that's necessary to help the patient.”


Have you had the chance to read “On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B” yet? According to this classic essay, we should expect exactly the system we have, that is, pay me fee-for-service and I’ll give you lots of service. And don’t call me greedy; we’re all responsible (via elected politicians) for supporting this dysfunctional system of rewards.