If there is one thing we all agree on, it’s that healthcare is complex.
The health of any individual is, of course, complex — with thousands of variables in the matrix of health, illness, and healing. Further, healthcare itself is complex, with so many challenges and opportunities that it’s easy to lose hope that things can change or improve.
So it’s deeply heartening when we stumble across a healthcare initiative that is outrageously simple, but with profound results.
Recently, I stumbled across two healthcare interventions that are deeply effective but very, very simple.
First, a group of California hospitals implemented a simple post-hospital educational initiative to reduce MRSA infections. 2000 patients were given either education on preventing infections via hygiene or that education plus antiseptic for bathing, antiseptic mouthwash, and antibiotic nasal ointment. The results? MRSA infections came down by 30%, with the education-plus-supplies group showing the most improvement. No new technologies were pioneered; nothing expensive was implemented. Just a simple “care package” to send home with patients from the hospital.
Second, a Virginia VA hospital had its nurses spend extra minutes with patients plus spend $5 on a toothbrush and toothpaste to encourage patients to brush their teeth. The results? Non-ventilator cases of hospital-acquired pneumonia have decreased by 90%. So far, they estimate that they’ve saved 21 lives and reduced costs by $4.69 million. Pretty phenomenal results for something as simple as a toothbrush and a helping hand.
So is there anything that we can conclude from these two studies, other than celebrate the ingenuity of their pioneers? I think there is.
2 Key Learnings From These Pioneering (But Simple!) Studies:
- Simple and inexpensive can be best.
One thing that we love about iClickCare is that it's a simple, inexpensive way to do telemedicine -- no expensive new hardware or computers or huge software implementations required. Sadly, some in healthcare believe that complexity is always better -- so they'd almost prefer a more expensive, more difficult product. But these studies are yet another proof point of how misguided that approach is.
- Real life trumps theory.
In both of these studies, the initiatives were thoughtful about the reality that patients would face as people receiving care (one in the hospital, and one after the hospital stay.) It's easy for us in healthcare to focus on the glamorous treatment -- like a sophisticated surgery -- and forget that something as simple as nasal ointment or tooth-brushing can save lives. Similarly, we believe it's crucial to collaborate across the continuum of care -- not just between specialists -- since often, aides or nurses or others on the team will have a more "real life" perspective that can help.
The bottom line? Don't be afraid to do what is right for your patients, even if it doesn't sound fancy. It's possible that the deeply un-fancy is what's going to save healthcare -- and save lives.
For more stories of smart collaboration, download our Quick Guide: