So I want to start with a brief story that is too good to pass up. It speaks to me about the importance, and sometimes the simplicity, of getting started.
The other day, I struggled to set up my new printer; the incomprehensible instruction booklet didn’t help, and I couldn’t get my computer to recognize the printer. So I called my favorite computer consultant at my university’s tech support help line. He guided me through the many steps of driver installation, all of which I had taken, to no avail, the night before. He had me check that the printer was plugged in and turned on, and that all the connectors were nice and tight. The printer display said “ready” but the printer remained stubbornly hidden from the computer’s view.
“There’s a button that says OK, “ I noted.
“Go ahead and press it,” he said. “It can’t hurt”
Success! My computer shook hands with my printer!
Take the next step.
When you see a button that says OK, go ahead and press it.
There are so many ways that healthcare can be improved, and I hope to share some thoughts about them. Some of the necessary steps are extensive and require changing whole systems of care.
But some steps are simple: Listen for two minutes (really listen, without distraction) to a patient’s concerns about having diabetes. Problem-solve with a patient who is confused by having to take six different medications, all with different dosing schedules. Recognize that a patient is depressed and at risk for nonadherence.
These are small steps in patient care; they are opportunities that present themselves every day and can make a huge difference in chronic disease management. Multiplied by millions of medical interactions, they can save billions of dollars in preventable emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and complications. They can prevent a lot of human suffering and a lot of provider frustration.
Some of the steps are simple. Just get started. Press OK.