My night at the hospital

Last weekend I went to the emergency room. Only a few people knew about this at the time or since then.

It turned out to be absolutely nothing – a complete false alarm. But as a precaution they kept me overnight just to make sure.

This morning I read three different columns in the New York Times about our healthcare system. In different ways they brought back my recent memories of my time at Newton-Wellesley hospital.

First, let me say, I agree with the very first sentence of the first story I read this morning. Our medical system is on life support. We need a new business model applied to health care. The current model isn’t appropriate. It’s focused on illness not wellness. The financial incentives aren’t right. And the the legal liability is so high that it encourages too much in the “cover your ass” department vs whats best for the patient.

My time at the hospital was a complete blur. The concern went from minor to major to nothing in a day. I met with countless physicians, nurses and aids. I don’t know any of their names. So I’m not surprised that most hospital patients don’t know the names of physicians. That isn’t a good thing.

And this brings up another point.

I was in the hospital for about 24 hours. During that time I can’t tell you how many people took my blood, did xrays, checked my vitals, woke me up, poked me, etc. I was asked the same question about 2000 times. I left the hospital without access to my medical records. I’m told I can get a copy but I have to call various departments to get the various reports.

Yes, as the NYT Op-Ed points out, we need to protect patient privacy but its time for a real modern, electronic medical records system. I want access from a browser. I want to see my xrays. I want to see the names of the people that helped me or hurt me. I want to keep it and compare it against future possible issues. I want to give my brother and parents access (they are all doctors). Let my wife see it (she’s my wife and a nurse).

Let’s not spread fear about disclosure. Let’s spread inspiration about what needs to be fixed.

I realize that this post is getting a bit snarky. I am grateful that I’m healthy and this was a false alarm. I also sincerely appreciate the staff at Newton-Wellesley hospital that took care of me. They are tireless and deserve way more recognition than possible in this post.

But they need a new system, a new model and new technology. And we need a new midset when it comes to our healthcare system.