What comes to mind if I ask you to define “a patient”? You might say, a sick individual trying to recover and get better. But a woman giving birth is also a patient and so is the baby, so that doesn’t quite cover it. Webster’s Dictionary defines a patient as “an individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment”, but your family member in a long term care facility or retirement home can also be seen as a patient, so that definition isn’t quite enough either.The challenge of defining a patient provides an accurate looking glass into the broader struggle within healthcare – we approach multifaceted problems with non-holistic solutions and simplified processing. We didn’t set out to do things that way; it’s an unfortunate consequence of how modern healthcare has evolved.
Nobody can deny that the healthcare ecosystem is incredibly complex. The numerous interdependencies between systems, workflows, clinicians and non-clinicians rarely harmonize together. To better understand this dynamic, let’s focus on what happens within the four walls of a hospital. These are the steps required for a patient to get admitted:
- The patient is brought into the hospital (often through the emergency department) where they are screened, triaged, and registered.
- Various clinicians and physicians examine the patient with a series of tests, procedures, and assessments to identify a root concern and best course of action.
- A physician begins the admission process.
- The patient is assigned and brought to a room and a bed in the hospital.