Who’s on First and What’s on Second

My beloved Red Sox had their worst start (0 and 6) since 1945. This horrific start to the season was made even more painful when you consider the fact that in 1945 all of the best baseball players were overseas fighting the Second World War. And as if that weren’t bad enough, Sports Illustrated picked this year’s Red Sox team to win the World Series. Have we been cursed yet again? Say it ain’t so…

Good news, I went to opening day at Fenway Park and the Red Sox beat the NY Yankees (final score 9 to 6 – yeah baby!) and ended their six game losing streak. Red Sox pitcher John Lackey pitched five innings gave up six runs and got the win. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit the first homerun of the Red Sox home season, went three for five and drove in three runs…

And yes, like any true baseball junkie my heroin is the statistics; I have found nirvana and its address is www.redsox.com.

The stats on this site are so interesting and so readily available. They can be sorted and analyzed easily and quickly and the displays are clear and easy to understand — there are even tutorials about them with examples that breathe life into the stats.

And it’s the examples that I love the most.

The examples here make the game much more accessible, interesting, engaging and relatable. When I read examples that include players I recognize and terms that I hear regularly it draws me in completely — now I really care about the statistics because I can relate to them.

Red Sox Table

Now consider how we can use baseball’s inclusion of examples in the same table as terms and definitions as a guide for how to make healthcare data and information more understandable, accessible and relatable for patients and their families.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making great efforts to craft a public information campaign about healthcare terminology and efforts to improve the quality and delivery of care. They have done an admirable job with the following glossary of terms but it could be greatly improved with the addition of examples in a consistent format all in one table.

Here is a partial snapshot of the current HHS Glossary:

HHS Table

Since the beginning of time, the “example” has been the foundation and formation of knowledge because examples “complete” the meaning of things. See how the addition of a few examples in a separate column completes this table and connects the term and definition to something concrete that patients and their families can relate to and ask their caregivers about.

Term Definition Example(s)
Hospital Acquired Condition A medical condition that a patient develops during a hospital stay. Patients who had a catheter placed as part of their care and developed a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Patients who were injured as the result of a fall during a hospital stay.
Hospital Outcomes of Care Measures An evaluation of the results (outcomes) of care or treatment(s) that a patient received in the hospital. Patients who had to be re-admitted to the hospital for care within 30-days of their hospital discharge date.
By evaluating the outcomes of care hospitals are able to identify potential opportunities to improve care. Patients who died within 30-days of their hospital discharge date.
Hospital Process of Care Measures Medical treatments and care that have been shown to improve patients’ care. For most patients undergoing surgery giving an antibiotic before surgery has been shown to reduce infections after surgery.
Hospitals identify patients who would benefit from these processes of care and then they monitor how well they have delivered them to those patients. Hospitals measure and report how many patients were candidates to receive an antibiotic before surgery compared to how many of those patients actually received antibiotics before surgery.
When a heart attack patient arrives at the hospital an aspirin can help keep blood clots from forming and dissolve blood clots that can cause a heart attack.
Hospitals measure and report how many patients arrived at the hospital that were having a heart attack, or thought to be having a heart attack, compared to how many of those same patients received an aspirin when they arrived at the hospital.

Why are examples so important?

First of all they give credibility. They make what you are describing seem possible — real — not just an idea or a theory. Examples also lend personality to information. Bland facts and theories are easily forgotten but stories and examples are more often retained.

When you are communicating healthcare data, information and evidence to any audience the inclusion of simple examples will vastly improve comprehension and retention. When patients and/or family members view this information they will remember it if it is explained with examples that mirror the experiences they may have in a hospital or doctor’s office. The information will be recognizable, and yes relatable.

And it isn’t just patients, it is any viewer of your information and reports — the more you can create a story and include examples like real patient experiences or clinical case details, the more your audience will remember and interact with you and your reports.

I love baseball – really, truly love it — almost as much as I love the power of a really great example or story to make data and information accessible and real.

Now can someone remind me — who’s on first and what’s on second……….?

Who's on First
Who’s on First

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