Friday, April 12, 2013

Why we all need Health Guardians in a hospital

It’s always a pleasure meeting Don Kemper, the CEO and Founder of Healthwise. He is one of the world’s thought leaders as to what the healthcare system can do to put patients first ! He has coined a great new term for what I call patient advocates – he calls them Health Guardians . This is a great description ! He believes that there are two constants when a patient is admitted in the hospital: one is his medical record , which everyone refers to ; and the second is the person who's looking after him . We would traditionally call this person a patient advocate , but health guardian is a much better term because it conveys precisely what patient advocates do. The word patient advocate has the negative connotation of being associated with lawyers and disputes and courts and confrontations - but guardian is much more positive . Words carry a lot of weight – and using the right term ensures everyone's interests are aligned ! When a doctor says - I need to talk to your health guardian, the patient feels a lot more confident - and so does the doctor and the guardian.

Health guardians guard your health: they keep a close eye to make sure you are getting the medications and treatments you are supposed to; they ensure things do not fall between the cracks; they prevent medical errors; the make sure that your preferences are respected and that the medical team taking care of you understands your needs; and that the medical staff washes their hands before examining you !

Health guardians act as guardian angels – and we all need one when we enter a hospital !
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