Or another thought, if you are a provider: why are any of us in health care?
It is a simple answer - the patient.
When we speak to the patient about their problem, who is the only one to have the history at their fingertips? The patient.
And when we look at the quality of care, who ultimately has to live with the outcome? The patient.
Once and for all, people, this is all about the patient.
But in our desire to be experts and gurus, we forget that all that we learn comes from the patient.
We decide what is good for them, or safe for them, or who they can access - yet we don't ask the patient what THEY want.
We build grandiose hypotheses around our favorite diagnosis - before taking a thorough history and asking the patient for the details.
We establish goals based on impairments - but refuse to ask the patient what they want to accomplish functionally.
We create outcome measures - that don't measure what is important to the patient.
We talk about creating value - but don't ask the patient just what that looks like.
We talk about cost - but don't make it transparent for the patient.
We do all of these things to make "health care" better - and forget about the one important element in all of it. The patient.
I have found myself inundated at times by statements that reflect a general ignorance of what the patient brings to the health care equation. They ARE the health care equation. Clinicians talk about patients having bias - and yet they fail to realize their own. Legislators talk about keeping patients safe - yet patients are already online searching for their own diagnosis with unfettered access to the Internet.
Frankly, all of this is getting rather old. Because here's a thought: if the patient is the central hub of "patient-centered care" and they don't know, then just who does?
There was a time not so long ago when consumers had problems buying cars. They didn't know what a double overhead cam was, or why fuel injection was or wasn't important. They didn't understand the world of cars. But with time, consumers made themselves, well, better consumers.
The same is true of health and health care. Create an environment in which the patient can be a better consumer. Because, yes, it is all about them.
Guide them. Mentor them. Advocate for them. Listen to them. Let them have choices in their health care. But above all, remember one thing - it's all about the patient.
Photo credits: paul bica