If you had to describe a situation or a problem using only 6 words you’d probably be very very careful in choosing those six words. For instance, let’s say we want to describe the act of…shoveling the driveway. (Is that even a problem? Or just a nuisance?) 6 words…COLD! WET! Tiring, tedious, boring, long, freezing, and so on and so on…pick your top 6! and then take those 6 words, and find 10 different synonyms for those words. In the end, you’ll have 66 words that will describe your issue. And that’s what Jim had us do with our problems.
Did you know that coming up with 66 distinct words is frustrating (one of our words!) and by the time you get done, you just feel blah (also one of our words!)? Kevin came up with the great idea of taking pictures of the words from book covers and converting each word into looking like the side binding of the book and put them on a bookshelf (the bookshelf part was my idea, I know, genius. Where else would you put books?) to organize them. He did a stunning job, and unfortunately…I don’t have that picture file, but he does and I’m sure that in a few days, he’ll post it.
What did we find???
1. Spleen means more than just an organ. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spleen It’s definition 4
2. We felt depressed after doing this. You would too if your words included the following: misunderstood, upset, perplex, apathy, unapproachable, sever, impede, anxiety, struggle, ineffective, BOTCH, barrier, FAILURE, derelict, aggravation…and so on.
3. By the time we got done, we felt like we had just come out of the doctor’s office ourselves, truly frazzled…it was as if we each experienced all of these words through the process of finding them.
4. Now, our problem has become alive to us, we’ve given the problem a negative character, but not a hopeless one. It’s a problem, but it can be fixed.
5. We’ve been able to see our problem from such a completely different perspective as we’ve been able to explore the meaning of some of these words, really, it’s amazing how much they overlap and yet, there are still 66 words out there that are unique and would be completely appropriate to describe the problem.
6. Don’t pick books with weird titles. When the librarian hands them over to Kevin, he’ll get a weird look.
7. Now that we’ve identified all the most important words, how do we work on them to fix the problem that they are describing? If there’s a will there’s a way.
Please, we’d love to have some feedback!
Who reading this has not experienced a “communication meltdown?” Life is full of them! From the grocery store to our schools, communication is the key that holds our experiences together and makes them truly horrendous (i.e. meltdown style!) or fulfilling (think perfect grilled cheese sandwich good). That being said, one of the most crucial areas that needs good communication is in the doctor’s office. We know that communication can start horribly from only a hard-to-understand receptionist, but the focus of our project is physician-patient communication in the general practitioner’s examination room.
We began this process waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in August of 2010 (I know, 7 months is a long time) and thus far…we’ve learned that we know nothing! Discouraging? Only always! Encouraged? More so then we actually need! It took a great teacher (thanks Jim!) and some crazy experiences of our own (you’d be amazed at how many of us landed in the doctor’s office or hospital recently) to help us open our eyes to all the opportunities and possibilities that we have to help fix our targeted problems. The two people working on this specific problem are Suzi (me!) and Kevin. He uses bigger words than I do, so you’ll know which one of us is writing which post.
Here’s our PROBLEM and GOAL (Feel free to skim!)-
Every patient’s experience is based upon the culmination of his or her interactions with things and people. The quality of any interaction with a person is dependent on effective communication. Effective communication is what holds the world together. Be it in business, politics, education or health care, success or failure is many times determined by the quality of communication.
Healthcare is especially dependent on communication. From the onset of symptoms to the final billing, patients and their families are continually interacting with healthcare professionals and their staff. Although patients and their families will spend hours in contact with the healthcare system, the critical moments that the patient spends with the physician will greatly influence the quality of the patient experience. Unfortunately, research shows that patients and physicians do not effectively communicate with each other. This communication gap is especially prevalent during diagnosis and treatment option discussions. In a recent study published by the Journal of Internal Medicine, 61 percent of “technically obese” adults had never been told by a healthcare professional that they were obese or needed to do anything about their weight. This statistic is not necessarily an indication that the physician failed to communicate with the patient, rather it implies that there a breakdown of communication in the patient-physician interaction.
The cause of this disconnect is a result of both patient and physician barriers, such as fear and anxiety, apathy, differences in expectations, time constraints and cultural barriers. Due to these barriers, negative implications such as distrust, frustration, and dissatisfaction will plague both patients and physicians. However, if this disconnect could be remedied the feelings of distrust, frustration and dissatisfaction would be replaced with feelings of success, trust and satisfaction. The aim of our project is to develop a model to improve patient-physician communication during diagnosis and discussion of treatment options.
So, there you have it! Our problem in a nutshell. We’ll continue posting about our journey! And, please, we would LOVE and appreciate to hear any feedback! Thanks for reading to the bottom of this post…good work.
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