Kruse Scholar Perspective: Bianca Nguyen

In a previous blog post, my fellow Kruse Scholar, Andrea Stoesz, discussed the illusion of “The Miracle of Minneapolis” written in The Atlantic. Perhaps one of the greatest myths about Minnesota surrounds its renown for delivering the highest quality health care. Before I create any misunderstanding, let me say that health care in Minnesota is truly exceptional. With the Twin Cities so saturated with top notch hospitals and health systems competing in the same market, significant advancements in the industry are constantly changing the game and taking care to the next level. New clinics with the latest features and technology are sprouting around like flowers in May. The state has one of the lowest (if not the lowest) uninsurance rates for patients in the entire United States. There is no better place to receive care—if you’re the right patient.

It is true that the quality of medical care in Minnesota is outstanding for most people, but there is still a large group of patients that are not benefitting from the latest and greatest innovations. For example, the proliferation of patient portals like MyChart are improving the patient experience by increasing communication and access to caregivers, empowering patients by serving as a source of knowledge and education, and streamlining care by moving processes outside of the hospital. Moving more communication to patient portals may be convenient for the average middle class individual, but what about patients who do not own a computer or have limited access to the internet? This barrier may mean missing important messages about their health, and what was intended to improve communication may end up hurting it. Besides internet access, think about patients who do not have a mobile phone or even a home. Perhaps the care they receive in the hospital is excellent, but any follow-up to continue care coordination would be impossible without an ability to contact them, and they would be readmitted in the future. Consider a homeless patient who visits the hospital and is given a fantastic care plan and prescriptions that should make him better in no time. However, it is possible that that patient will never be able to finish the medication regimen because of the prevalence of theft and lack of security that can be associated with living on the street.

Perhaps some of you think that these scenarios are rare and extreme, but unfortunately they are not uncommon occurrences in the hospital at which I am currently working. The point I am trying to make is that despite all of the incredible advances happening in the health care industry that make it seem like we have achieved the highest quality of care, none of that matters if they are not meeting the patients where they are. In order to be true leaders in delivering the best care and healthy patients, leaders in health care must partner with leaders from all sectors of the community. People are more than just lab subjects that can be easily diagnosed and treated with the latest medicine and technology, and health encompasses more than just the absence of disease. To achieve overall wellbeing, support and security in all areas of life are necessary. It is time that we start thinking about the bigger picture and work together with our colleagues, neighbors, and friends from all areas—including healthcare, government, education, finance—so that we can build strong Communities of Excellence.

*Learn more about Bianca Nguyen here

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