The Washington Post has a very interesting profile of the recent “Genius” recipient Eric Coleman:
The reason: Care transitions tend to be some of the most vexing moments in health care, where medical errors are frequent as patients change places and providers. Coleman’s own research has found that one in seven seniors transferred out of the hospital have at least one medical discrepancy in their care, directives to conflicting treatments that could cause harm.
Coleman has spent his entire 23-year career working on how to reduce those medical discrepancies, improving the quality of care while also reducing costs from costly complications. He became interested in that research area during his 18 years as a primary care doctor, and kept seeing patients who were stuck in a fragmented care system.
“It’s a fleeting time period when professionals are actually there,” Coleman says. “I’d walk into the exam room feeling like, ‘okay, I’m this person’s doctor. And then my jaw would just be hitting the floor as they told me about this epic odyssey they’ve been on, from the hospital to the nursing home to the rehab facility. That whole time I was not there.”
That got Coleman interested in the idea of not necessarily teaching doctors how to better handle transitions, but working ensuring that patients had the skills they need to navigate moving from one health-care setting to another.
This is an interesting solution, and it points to a more general problem: many people do not know how to be a good patient. As in describing their problems fully and clearly, asking the right questions, and displaying the proper level of skepticism to the doctor’s diagnosis. People of a certain generation seem to completely lack these skills, and I wonder if proper education can fill the gap.