Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Healthcare costs can be improved ...

I spent the past week being probed for my yearly physical. In the process I noticed there are certain aspects to the healthcare system that should and can be improved. This particular visit included a stop to the Doctors office and a visit to the lab for blood tests. Remember when the Doc did your blood tests. Well that has been outsourced and not very well.

Part 1. Went to Doctor for the first appoint that day. I learned over the years that any afternoon appointments are tragically delayed. I have waited up to an 1 hour after being assigned a waiting room. So this visit was good although I still waited 11 minutes for the first appointment of the day in which I arrived 15 minutes early.

So my first pet peeve and improvement area. Why does it take 3 people to check me in. Oh the endless mounds of paper they have to manage. Why do I need to fill out the same paperwork each year. Tablet PC's were supposed to solve this. Why do I carry a medical card with a mag strip on it. Same for my license. Can't someone solve this issue ?

Sun could save money by issuing a paper card each year. The embedded technology is not used from what I can tell. But if it were, I would not have to fill out paper work every time I visit to Doctor. The staff in the office could actually do more productive things instead of copying my card and managing my paperwork. They would not have to check to see which treatments my provider will reimburse them for.

Part II. The Doctors office visit would be the easiest part of the morning. Less then 45 minutes and I was out of there. Now on to "Blood Corporation" for the blood tests. I should have known better when I saw the line outside the door. I went the desk and signed myself in. Now the wait starts. Literally 50 minutes go by and I get called to the desk. Yes I am in. No, I now need to fill out more paper work. Yes, it takes 45 minutes to process paperwork for a 5 minute blood test.

Once the paperwork is done it still takes another 20 minutes to get the actual test.

What went wrong. One person is managing the check in process. She is generating literally 6 pages of paperwork and yes copying my medical card one more time. Why not use a bar code reader ? Their computer system does not even know I have been there before. Although the lady who takes my blood recognizes me. Must be my stunning personality :)

A lot of people worry that any healthcare reform will take a toll on medical care. I argue that the process can be improved while keeping the same level of care.

That is why Sun has been working with the NHIN and others team to improve communication across healthcare entities. I hope it takes hold before the next physical.

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leroyk

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