Emergency Medicine

7 Things I Learned in the ER

My work as a health advisor is guided by the lessons I learned leading emergency departments.

Some people launch careers in health advisory after they have had a poor healthcare experience. They may have successfully navigated the healthcare system for themselves or a loved one and want to help others.

I bring a different perspective to this work. Before starting a health advisory firm, I was a senior healthcare leader. I worked in healthcare for 20 years, and my experience leading emergency departments taught me a great deal. Today, I leverage the best practices I learned in the ER to lead a firm that helps individuals, families, and companies access top quality health care.

Lessons Learned from Working in the ER

  1. Lead with care. We would say this often in the ER. It means that when there are competing priorities (for example, if we were having trouble verifying the patient’s insurance information), the top priority is to address the care of the patient. At BHA, we take the same approach. If a patient who has just started with us needs urgent help, we get right to work. If a patient’s family member, who isn’t an official client of ours, has a special medical need—such as a car accident—we are going to set up the ambulance ride and have someone meet them at the ER.
  2. Be ready to help. Emergency medicine is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Healthcare emergencies can happen any time, not just during business hours, so my team is accessible 24/7.
  3. Know when to go slow. There was an expression in my emergency department, “Do slow things slow and fast things fast.” We used it in relation to patient flow. The best flow is one that drives efficiency without rushing the process or compromising patient safety. When a patient comes to BHA, we start with an assessment and determine how quickly we need to move. By assessing the urgency of their needs and prioritizing them accordingly, we’re able to help each person in a way that is both thorough and efficient.
  4. Work with medical experts. Research indicates that when a hospital’s Board of Directors is involved with quality of care, the hospital provides better care. The Better Health Advisors team includes a Medical Advisory Board, and these expert physicians oversee everything we do. In addition, a health advisor oversees and engages in the care that clients receive, akin to a board overseeing quality care at a hospital.
  5. Work as a team. In the ER, I saw how important it is for team members to collaborate and support each other. Because each person has a different perspective, one person might notice something about a patient that their colleague didn’t see. At BHA, we hold weekly meetings to discuss client care and capture these same kinds of insights. Everyone on our team has a different area of expertise, and our clients benefit from these diverse perspectives.
  6. Communicate with other providers. In the ER, we had regular meetings with the radiology department and with outside primary care groups, because that communication improved care. At BHA, we have standing meetings with our key providers and facilities that treat our clients, including homecare agencies and mental health groups. These ongoing meetings provide us with the latest information on how each client is doing, allowing us to address any potential issues as early as possible.
  7. Get the work done between meetings. You don’t have to work in a hospital to appreciate this one. The meetings between doctors and patients are important, but doctors also have additional work to do on their patients’ behalf outside of those appointments. At BHA, we meet as a team and we meet with clients. We spend the rest of our time working on our clients’ behalf, such as calling doctors, organizing physical therapy, and researching treatments and medications.

Can my team put our experience and expertise to work for you? If you need help navigating the healthcare system, reach out to Better Health Advisors. We can help you find excellent doctors and healthcare facilities, manage a new diagnosis, arrange for mental health or substance abuse treatment, and much more.

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