By Terry Bauer Healthcare Management Consultant, CEO and Entrepreneur | Stroudwater
FEBRUARY 18, 2016 – When I had surgery shortly before Christmas last year, I had the opportunity to view the state of American healthcare firsthand. Much of my knowledge of current industry trends was confirmed, but there were some surprises, too.
I was the model of today’s educated consumer—if I do say so myself. I intentionally scheduled the procedure at the end of the year when I knew I had reached my health insurance deductible. I did my homework on orthopedic surgeons, too, taking advantage of every bit of transparency offered in today’s healthcare marketplace.
Studying up gave me confidence
I studied my surgeon’s credentials, did research on the group he was a part of, and reviewed all the quality scores I could find online. I talked to current and previous patients. I also asked my surgeon how many times he had performed the procedure. “Several thousand,” he said. That gave me comfort. So did his age, in his mid-40s. It said to me that he was young enough to be using the latest technology and techniques and old enough to have considerable experience.
Another thing I liked about him was that he seemed to understand the increasing expectations patients have of their doctors today. He took time to talk with me and answer my questions. He phoned me the night before my surgery and asked if I was ready. He also visited me not long after the surgery and sent me home the same day, about eight hours after I had checked in at the hospital. He congratulated me on my “prehab,” the preparation I had done before the surgery to keep myself fit. It’s as important as the rehab work, he said, and I have to agree.
Negatives were few, but had their impact
The only downside was that my allergic reaction to Betadine after another operation a few years ago had not been noted in my electronic health record, so I had to deal with the itching and redness a second time around. And while I was mostly pleased with the hospital’s medical performance, its business performance left a lot to be desired. The first bill I received had no explanation about the charges, so I called and requested a detailed invoice, which arrived two weeks later. I also received a satisfaction survey four days after I left the hospital—before the bill arrived. Was the timing intentional? Or a case of the hospital’s right hand not knowing what its left hand is doing? Whatever the answer, the impact is the same, and it’s not positive.
Lesson learned: Patients are paying attention
The fact that I make my living in the healthcare industry of course made me especially attentive to every step in my surgical experience, and maybe I’m the exception to the rule. But I do think the prognostications in my 2015 end-of-the-year post are correct: Hospitals and providers must be aware that more and more consumers are paying closer attention to the quality of their healthcare experience, to the costs associated with their care and ultimately to the relationship they have with their physicians. With awareness and preparation, my experience was a good one overall. May it be the same for any of you entering the healthcare system as a patient in this new year.
Terry Bauer joined Stroudwater in 2014, where he leads the Strategy Practice Team at the firm. He also dedicates his time to affiliations, M&A, accelerated operational improvement, revenue cycle management and physician/hospital alignment. In addition, Terry advises innovative healthcare technology and services companies on strategy and capital raising. He has been a healthcare leader and an operator for over three decades working for and running companies that provide high value business services to hospitals, physicians and payers. Terry posts regularly on his LinkedIn page, www.linkedin.com/in/terrylbauer, and on Twitter @TerryLBauer.