Information Transfer Fail

While the dentist was looking over my x-rays, he saw something he would like checked out by a specialist. He used words like “sometimes they..” and “might be…” when describing the issue he saw.

I get a referral. The information on the referral slip is the name of the referring dentist (which I can’t read), no boxes checked, and “#31” in the comments.

I call the specialist and start getting technical questions about what my dentist wants them to look at / look for, etc.

So the process is to use the patient as a conduit for vaguely expressed (in layman’s terms) technical information between highly trained specialists.

Sadly, I think this happens all of the time in the health care industry. It seems that there is so much focus on optimizing the nodes that nobody really “gets” that the patient’s experience (and ultimately the outcome of the process) is defined more by the interactions and interfaces than it is by the nodes themselves.

I am really not sure how fundamentally different this is from a pilot asking a passenger to find the maintenance supervisor and tell the mechanic about a problem with a plane.

The net effect is, as I am writing this, the specialist’s office is calling the referring dentist and asking them what, exactly, they want done.. a net increase of 100% in the time involved for all parties to communicate.

While the national debate is on how we pay for all of this, we aren’t asking why it costs so much (or kills more people than automobile accidents do).

2 thoughts to “Information Transfer Fail”

  1. Yeah, pretty scary. And what is being discussed in the health care fix is; if we pay them less this will make them more efficient.

    “The net effect is, as I am writing this, the specialist’s office is calling the referring dentist and asking them what, exactly, they want done.” You have to hope that the “specialist” talks directly to the the dentist.

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