Working in Quality Management in health care, I’m driven by 3 things: 1) that we do no harm, 2) that we meet our standards and commitments, and 3) that we continually improve the care we give the people we serve. Health care is risky business. People are in need, their defenses are down. Providers of health care use to tools of medicine, surgery, and life style change to try to affect health. Nothing always just does as hoped. There are side effects to everything, even life style changes – For example, increased activity can lead to injuries. Anyway, this month I’ve focused on Monitoring and Alert systems at work. We serve people with complex challenges in programs funded and regulated by many state agencies, insurance companies, and contracts. Families, neighbors care about and are affected by the people we serve. How can we monitor everything to make sure we meet our commitments and do no harm? How do we alert the people who run the programs and are served by the programs when we find something that can be improved? A challenge is monitoring effectively and efficiently. We could spend a fortune monitoring thoroughly, but then we’d have no money left to give the services. It’s a balance of science and art.
Monitoring and alerting for personal health is similar. We don’t want harm to come to ourselves or our loved ones. We want to keep our fingers on the pulse of our heart, our activity, our mood, our discomfort, etc. We’d like to know if we are approaching danger before it hits us. We could get tested for everything on the chance something gets uncovered-think full body scans, genome analysis. We could stay indoors to avoid an accident outside-boring. For monitoring I keep a spreadsheet of my weight, miles walked, miles on the stationary bike, hours playing saxophone, hours of sleep. When any of them (except weight) go down that’s an alert. When my wife tells me to go sit down because I’m exhausted and unstable on my feet, that’s an alert. Monitor and alert – a magic lever of best health.