I recently had the opportunity to hear Maureen Bisognano, CEO of Institute for Healthcare Improvement, speak at the Society of Hospital Medicine 2015 Annual Conference. In her keynote address, she challenged us to focus less on asking what's the matter with our patients and more on asking what matters to our patients. One way to do this, she noted, is to start asking our patients what a good day looks like to them. Why is this so important? As providers, we have a specific agenda we want to accomplish while in the room with the patient. As we've gotten busier, the time we spend just talking has decreased. Given the rush, we often don't stop to ask our patients what their actual preferences are. Taking a moment to ask our patients, What's a good day look like for you?, puts the focus back on our patients and their wishes. It's not complicated, and it only takes a minute, but the answers could be transformative.
Imagine a patient with pneumonia. As the physician, a good day in my opinion would be one in which my patient takes the antibiotics and doesn't spike a fever. However, in my patient's mind, a good day may be one in which he or she sits outside in the hospital's healing garden for a few minutes. You can see that my good day and my patient's good day are completely different. In fact, I may never suggest the healing garden on my own. By taking the time to ask the patient what a good day looks like, I now know one small thing I can assist with to make a huge difference for my patient. The nice thing about this question is it applies to both the inpatient and outpatient setting.
Maureen Bisognano challenged all of us at SHM to start asking our patients what a good day looks like for them, so now I challenge you to do the same.