Individuality In Healthcare Is Here – Pair It With Inclusion To Achieve Better Outcomes
In May I attended the inaugural HLTH: The Future of Healthcare conference in Las Vegas, and it is generating a lot of discussion around some exciting innovations in healthcare.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know how strongly I believe in the power of the individual – and the benefit this power provides for organizations that lead inclusion and individuality as a growth strategy. When you allow the individual to influence more, you drive better results. I’ve stated often that healthcare must evolve to inclusion and individuality. Here’s how I define each of those terms:
- Individuality requires a concerted effort to know and account for the realities and the values of individual patients and employees.
- Inclusion is a system for making sure the organization is welcoming at every level to every individual.
I use the words “realities” and “values” deliberately because those are two distinct aspects of a person’s individuality – whether we’re talking about patients or employees – and those aspects are not always obvious or easy to identify and account for. That why I also deliberately use the words “system” and “concerted effort.” That’s what it takes – a system of processes to help people within the organization learn about the individuals they serve, and also processes for sharing that insight across the organization (while maintaining patient confidentiality, of course). These are processes that need to be understood, embraced and accessible to everyone within a healthcare organization – clinical and non-clinical, leaders and employees.
There were some great examples of these methods in place at the HLTH 2018 Conference.
Individual Reality – Your Genome
One of the big announcements involved genome sequencing for patients. Since the words genome and DNA get thrown around together a lot, I turned to the National Institutes for Health (NIH) for some clarity: “A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.”
It doesn’t get much more individual than your own genetic code.
Dr. David Feinberg is president and CEO of Geisinger, a health service organization that serves more than 3 million people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. At the conference he announced that DNA sequencing would be offered to every Geisinger patient, at no cost to the patient. Along with your cholesterol, you can get your DNA sequenced, and that will help doctors see if you have any genomic variants that increase risk of early cancers or heart disease, allowing doctors to detect and treat those conditions before any clinical symptoms become present.
Dr. Feinberg told the story of a 16-year-old who came into the hospital dehydrated from soccer practice. They did the full sequencing and found both of the genes associated with failed cardiac arrhythmias in young athletes. As he put it: “When you hear about the young kid dying in football practice – this patient has both of the genes.” She now has a defibrillator and a beta blocker, and won’t die from a fatal cardiac arrhythmia because of her genetics.