If Steve Jobs Redesigned Health Care

A recent Forbes article from yesterday discussed what hospitals would be like if Steve Jobs had redesigned them in the way he redesigned the technology field. The insight was pretty much spot on and called out some pretty blatant ironies and seemingly simplistic changes.

  1. Eliminate doorknobs in medical establishments. Germ theory and knob-less doors have both been around forever. 
  2. Eliminate elevator buttons, cash transactions and other easily replaced vehicles for spreading germs in medical establishments. 
  3. Pediatricians tell patients to avoid having their children share toys and books with sick kids.  But what do many pediatricians provide in their waiting rooms?
  4. Ban bacon and doughnuts in hospital cafeterias.  Unpopular, perhaps. But how can healthcare providers preach the value of healthy diets when their own cafeterias serve so much unhealthy food?
  5. Prevent sleep deprivation among physicians.  Recent focus on medical interns has led to improvements, but healthcare providers still envy the sleep rules imposed on pilots.
  6. Hospital patients prefer private rooms. Hospital-borne infections prefer shared rooms.
  7. Noise, visual clutter and poor quality lighting are plentiful in U.S. hospitals.  Each one has been demonstrated to harm patient outcomes.
  8. Pharmacies are a terrible bottleneck in hospitals. Centralized dispensing pharmacies increase drug delivery time by 50%. Do you want your hospital pharmacist to feel rushed?
  9. More talking, less walking. Nurses spend almost 1/3 of their time walking through rectangular, single corridor units to see patients. Radial units allow nurses to visually supervise patients and spend more time on patient care and communication.
  10. Disease doesn’t respect office hours. Yet hospital staffing is typical of the Monday-through-Friday, 9am-to-5pm American working culture.  Studies show that patients who enter the hospital with stroke or heart disease at night or on weekends have higher mortality than midweek, 9am-5pm admissions.  It’s hard to understand why such straightforward ways to improve patientmortality outcomes are overlooked.
How these changes could be implemented in hospitals is yet to be determined, the author seems to think that the likelihood of change is minuscule because when you’re dealing with larger operations like hospital systems, small changes get lost in the shuffle. 
So it stands to reason that independent practices and non-hospital-owned physicians could be the ones that take these ideas and run with them! Working mostly with radiology practices and radiation oncology practices, the concerns associated with germs are less of an issue, but if you take the same approach, the Steve-Jobs thinking, when it comes to simplifying the larger patient issues like healthcare costs, comparing physicians and finding quality doctors; we could be on to something.
- Why leave it to patients to have to call around to eight different doctor’s offices looking for prices when you can list them all in the same place?
- Why stress about the one million and half ways to refer patients to specialists if you could do it in one simplistic portal?
- Why spend the time chasing down no-pay patients, if you can let a third party accept payment before the procedure even happens?
- Why can’t checking into your doctor’s appointment be as easy as checking into your flight online?
- If your staff is overwhelmed by various tasks that could be replaced by an application, why wouldn’t you let it happen?
Some food for thought. We’re working on those solutions and if we can fix those things, then what else can we change?