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Message from Leadership: The Times are A'Changing

Published August 11, 2014

There is a particular privilege in aging when you get to talk about “how things were back when I was young” and thereby bore the heck out of your listeners.  Well, I have a birthday coming next month so prepare to be schooled about the “good ‘ole days” and how different things are today. 

To add another wrinkle to this conversation, I have the advantage of being the son of a physician so I can tell you what I observed of the practice of medicine in my dad’s time as well.  Not quite pre-flood days but pretty darn close.  When I step back and think, it is pretty mind-boggling how things have changed in such a short time.

When my dad was practicing he did not even have a pager.  He called the answering service and told them where he was heading.  As kids, we were trained early to answer the phone and take a message for “Dr. Yetman when he gets home.”  Today it seems so foreign to not have a mobile phone.  How in the world could you practice safe medicine and not be in constant contact with the hospital/office/labor and delivery?  I still remember the day my dad got his first pager. It always seemed to go off during Mass on Sunday.  It took some time for Father Kraft to get used to the interruptions but he and the rest of the congregation adjusted to this new reality.  Progress.

When I was first in practice I had a pager – and it was one that could deliver a message to me like, “Call L&D ASAP – emergency,” but if I was driving, I had no cell phone or car phone to call with.  All I could do was drive faster and hope the police would understand.  The day I got my first cell phone (the size and weight of two bricks) my life seemed to change greatly.  How much better was this?  I could drive and talk at the same time!  (Now, of course, we know how bad that is.)   But progress had continued to march on. 

Today we have e-mail, MyChart, an EMR that can do everything but slice bread for our lunch – PLUS we are creating new paradigms of care management that take the concept of caregiver to new places.  No more is the “care team” just a provider and MA or a provider and Nurse, we are finally creating the teams that can innovate around health maintenance strategies that will keep whole communities healthier and safer. This is the promise of healthcare reform and we are seeing it become more visible every day.

It is high time that we deliver on this to our patients and communities.  Think about it – would you want to buy a plane ticket the way we did in 1975?  Would you want to bank like it was 1980?  No way!  All of us have very high expectations of the services that we use daily.  We want them to be accessible via the internet.  We want them to offer options for us to choose from and we want it all instantly!  I find that I get irritated if a webpage loads too slowly – wow am I spoiled!  But so are our patients, and we must deliver care to them in the manner that they want or we risk going the way of the dinosaur and travel agent.

As a healthcare delivery system, Providence is committed to developing the infrastructure to help our patients access care in the way they want it, when they want it, and as fast as they want it.  We are devoting tremendous resources to re-creating the delivery of care so that we engage our community as partners and members rather than as patients only. I am proud to be part of such a ministry.

So take it from this old goat – things are different today than they were 20, 30 or 40 years ago. And they will be even more different in 5, 10 or 15 more years. Get ready for a revolution in care and how we access it. If you love change and uncertainty – you will love the next few years! I am also proud that Providence does not change merely to change. We are doing all of this with our eyes firmly on the patient and their needs. All of this change will be consistent with and in service to our Mission, Vision and Values. That’s what makes us Providence. Right?