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All's Well in the End - Great Technology and Patient Experience

May 18, 2009
by Joe Bormel
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Too often, we hear horror stories about someone's healthcare experience. Although there's no way to balance that out (all healthcare delivery should be perfect), I thought I'd share my very positive experience from this past week.

It was time. Time for my first colonoscopy. I've performed many sigmoidoscopies and sent many patients for colonoscopies. I knew this would be radically different; this was me-as-patient. And colonoscopies are much more extensive studies. I really didn't know exactly what “experience” to expect. But, all went well.

The procedure was successful and no major badness was discovered. The people, Reece, Kate, Richard and Swan were very professional and kind, telling me what to expect and never leaving me.

I know that quite a few CIOs are responsible for biomedical engineering departments, so I'll focus mainly on the monitoring device. That was the only device I actually saw, by the way, I never saw the colonoscope. The monitoring device was about the size of a large shoe box. Connected to it was my blood pressure cuff, telemetry leads, a CO2 monitor and a pulse oximeter. I found this really remarkable - they were using general anesthesia.

The drug was Propofol. Highly recommended! They could and did, on a moments notice, put me to sleep and subsequently wake me up. While I was out, they could tell I was okay, even if I wasn't breathing! The anesthesia safety afforded by this technology over the last two decades has gone from about four sigma to seven sigma of process reliability. Or, in English, a thousand times lower death rate.

I had several procedures including general surgery in 1991. The technology experience now was distinctly more elegant. The device was much smaller, the sensors unobtrusive (the CO2 monitor was hidden in the nasal cannula, and the pulse-ox was tiny). There was no post-anesthesia headache, and the control is phenomenal.

I'll spare you the mundane details of the prep and the post-procedure bloating; all fairly harmless stuff.

All in all, the healthcare system performed very well and the overall experience was very positive. Good processes and technology can really be a pleasure.

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