Ensuring the center is safe

Recently I wrote the piece Healthcare improvement starts with putting the patient at the center where I focused on the essential need to collaborate, to eliminate shame and blame, and to improve the healthcare system for all by first truly placing the patient in the center.

And whether it was via Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media outlet all the feedback was so very much appreciated.

And yet it was one comment (tweet) that caught my eye more than any other.

The tweet was from Bob Tufts, a former major league pitcher and current adjunct professor who, according to his Twitter account, has also beaten myeloma, and it said in response to my post title …

as long as it isn’t a circular firing squad

160531 Bob Tufts tweet

Now I must admit, at first I was taken a little aback by this comment and the picture that arose in my mind as I initially processed it.

And yet … as I thought further about this message the power and weight of these nine words truly took hold.

Have we actually created a proverbial firing squad for patients with our …

  • reliance on new financial models to drive decisions prior to doing what is right for patients
  • focus on revenue generation and market share acquisition at the expense of patients, families, and communities
  • elimination of joy in healing for our doctors and nurses
  • abuse of doctors and nurses and their subsequent burn out and worse
  • focus on each patient as a diagnosis, i.e., “the diabetic”, rather than as a whole person
  • inability to successfully integrate physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health into the care model
  • intentional elimination of humanity from the healthcare model
  • scarcity of authentic connection, relationship and trust within the healthcare system
  • lack of health equity
  • lack of transparency
  • dearth of patient and family engagement
  • preventable medical errors
  • proclivity for episodic treatments
  • overtreatment
  • high costs
  • continued focus on technical fixes to adaptive challenges, i.e., access to quality care
  • and more

Each and every one of these items causes harm to our patients and families, our doctors and nurses, and our communities. And yet this is the model we have created. And this is the model we are so slow to fix.

I truly believe there are amazing people working inside and outside of the healthcare system, fanning the flames of goodness, and fixing the brokenness.

And yet … it is clear that the center in which we seek to place our patients is still not safe.

We still have much work to do and we must do it together.

Bob, thank you for your tweet. Yes, challenging and yet also raw and eye opening.


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