In the 70’s there used to be cigarette ads with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby”. I thought I’d borrow the slogan to use here.
It’s one of those statements that can stop you in your tracks in a congratulatory manner. Prompting you to look around and say . . .
“Why, yes. Yes I have come a long way”. (In this case, it’s my relationship with my hospital that’s improved.)
Recently I was thinking about the kind of day I’d had at the hospital.
I was invited to a research interview where a Master’s student will inquire about how Kingston General Hospital works and how Patient Experience Advisors are contributing to Patient Centred Care.
I went to a sales presentation for a new dialysis machine – attended by doctors, nurses, renal techs and executives. I represented the patients’ perspective. Interjecting in a way I hoped kept the patient perspective in the forefront of people’s minds. This was the second meeting with the sales reps from NxStage, btw.
That same night I sent three emails to my doctors:
1. To follow-up on the NxStage sales meeting. Helping a particular nephrologist understand how powerfully this new dialysis system can improve the lives of some, or all, home Hemodialysis patients in the hospital’s home Hemodialysis program. And offering myself as a guinea pig to try the system at KGH as soon as they’d like to.
2. A request for an appointment with one of my favourite doctors. Her and I email all the time. She offered me her professional email address as soon as we met.
3. Sending a professional letter of recommendation to support one of a nephrologist in a professional goal.
First off, this day reminds me of how closely tied my life is to the hospital. Which I’m cool with. It’s a good relationship. I appreciate that.
Secondly, it wasn’t so long ago that the sales meeting would have been conducted without a patient experience advisor present. Decisions would have been made with no patient input. Medicine would have speculated what patient’s needed as best they could. They would have meant well but I do believe their decision today comes from a more patient-relevant perspective – since I shared my opinion and experience to contribute to their decision about trying the new system. I am thankful for the change to partner with the hospital to work on improving things.
Thirdly, it wasn’t long ago that I could not even fathom sending emails to my doctors. It just wasn’t heard of. Let alone sending informal appeals, asking for appointment requests and sending professional recommendations.
I am loving how medicine is evolving, in my experience.
I feel included, heard and valued. I definitely feel a sense of contributing to my healthcare . . . and even contributing towards positive healthcare for future patients (and definitely for my fellow patients at KGH)
I also feel a degree of friendship and meaningful relationship with the doctors . . . that I’ve never felt before. My care is deeper than just quick visits at the hospital. I consider some of these people colleagues and acquaintances. Of course I feel safer and better cared for by people who I believe know me well enough to really care about me.
I can’t assume that this is everyone’s experience with their hospital and with their doctors.
On the other hand.
I cannot assume I am so unique either . . .
I say that to say, if I am participating in my healthcare to this level now it bodes well for how everyone will participate in their healthcare in the future.
If I’m having great relationships with my medical team it bodes well for the type of relationships possible between anyone and their team.
Perhaps the not too far future either?
Times have certainly changed. We’ve come a long way.
And in a relatively short scope of time too.