By Lydia A Meyers RN, MSN, CWCN
I recently wrote a blog on my proposal to remodel home health care. I continue my musings as we consider other ways we can incorporate consumer-based business and marketing practices into the health care arena. What has become very clear to me through my recent studies and professional experience is that there is an urgent need to continue with evidence-based care and quality care. One way for this to happen is for health care facilities to become specialized and to fill the unique needs of the community at large and then market that specialty.
The business community has been aware of the need to specialize. Airlines came about because of the need for transportation to move people across the world. Car lots came about to have a place for consumers to easily purchase a car. Retail stores have even found a way of drawing in return customers by offering specialty products and/or pricing. The objective in all of these examples is to survive in a difficult economy and health care is no exception. The first rule of marketing is to find a need for a product or service and then to supply that need.
Health care can take lessons from the business community and learn the best way to survive or even improve when the economy is bad. I realize my ideas did not make a good impression with some of you in my last blog, but my thoughts are based on true information that is reflective of the changes we need to anticipate for tomorrow’s world. Change is difficult in health care, especially since an important factor in moving forward is achieving patient satisfaction with the care they receive.
The government understands the importance of patient education and provides a website for rating health care agencies. Access to other websites that compare the other healthcare agencies is also available through this website. The public needs to be aware that the answers to questions used to rate these agencies are often based on the nurse or therapist answering the questions for the patient, not the patient themselves. The changes the government has in mind to improve the quality of care and provide evidence-based care also include encouragement of the patient to be the major player in their care. Education of the patient will be primary and a true picture of patient care will be the focus of any part of the health care system.
Specialization becomes a good answer to many problems. Look at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA): the company has good outcomes, good reputation and works hard to promote evidence-based care. What is the secret to their success? They have a winning formula: team approach, specialization, and an approach to patient care that encompasses the body, mind and spirit. There is experimentation and looking at how to improve. Nurses, doctors and all staff members are well trained and specialized in their approach to the patient. This summation of CTCA’s practice is based on information I received directly from patients I have talked with who have received treatment from them; not from an advertisement. Remember the marketing power of word of mouth – another lesson we can take from the business community.
Now, here is an example of good research and information gathered by a wound care nurse in a home health agency that supports specialization and incorporating some of the business operation elements being discussed: A hospital that specializes in open heart surgery continued to send all the patients to the home health agency owned by the hospital. The wound care nurse noted that several patients ended up with wounds from the incisions in their legs. The nurse gathered the information to note a pattern in the patients without complications and the patients with the open wounds. The information compiled was then taken to the hospital board and the standard of care was changed based on the information given. This could happen with the education of nurses, doctors, administrators and clinicians in the field to promote better patient care. Encouraging staff to specialize, research, work as a team, and feel supported in these actions will result in high quality, low cost care.
Specialization has nothing but good sound reasoning behind it. There are sound marketing strategies, financial strategies and quality strategies that can be implemented to improve health care. Patient care will only increase with the training and support of a specialized staff. With a shift toward evidence-based care and more patient involvement and education, we can do more for our patients with less cost by remodeling our approach. Do I have all the answers? No. Do I feel I can do something to help make changes? Yes. Just remember: Passion does make a difference and working hard and caring supports change – this has always been the nurse’s job.
About the Author
Lydia Meyers RN, MSN, CWCN has been a certified wound care nurse for over 15 years with experience working in home healthcare, extended care facilities, hospice care, acute care, LTAC, and wound clinics. Her nursing philosophy to "heal wounds as quickly as possible" is the guiding force behind her educational pursuits, both as a teacher and a student.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.