Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Colleges Need to be More Like Hospitals

Higher education is in a position that hospitals were in back in the 1980’s. There were more beds than patients. Costs were climbing upsetting  and worrying the public. And the federal government was starting to assert itself on how hospitals were run and making them prove they were successful.  The result was that hospitals some consolidated, some were closed and others just went out of business. They could not manage under the scrutiny and additional cots to operate. That could, and is happening in higher education as well. 

Hospitals are like colleges. They have an administration that is not trusted by the hospital community. Doctors who have a somewhat independent relationship to the hospital, being able to do as they please for the most part with their patients. Their allegiance is to their discipline more than to the hospital.  Hospitals also have indifferent staffs as well as some stellar performers And hospitals have patients sort of like colleges have students.

A major difference though is that in the hospital, people show great concern for the patients and try to save each one while colleges accept a student “death rate” around 50%, the national attrition rate. That is a significant difference. 

In the hospital treatment is centered around the immediate and personal needs of the patient while in colleges the students’ needs are often neglected. In hospitals if a patient needs help, she or she can get that assistance from a qualified professional. In a college if s student needs extra help they get to work with a peer tutor. How many of you would be comfortable with another patient taking care of you in the hospital?
In the hospital, each patient gets care that is appropriate for him or her needs. In college everyone is treated the same too often in classrooms where the professor just drones out with the same information and teaching for everyone whether  they get the material or not.

Another difference is that the hospitals try to admit people who can benefit from the treatment they provide. If a person is not a good candidate for hospital care, he or she does not get in while at many, too many schools, they let in anyone whether or not they can benefit from the stay at the college.

Hospitals also try to save every one of the patients they have. If a patient is “crashing” they have a team that comes quickly to triage the patient and try to keep them alive. While if a student is crashing at most schools, the college lets him or another flunk. It is seldom that the professor (the doctor) will commit himself to triage the student and do all he can to save that student in the class. Hospitals even have a special ward for patients who are in the gravest chance of dying. It is the ICU while in schools may not even let a student know if he or she is in danger of failing a course or flunking out.

Oddly enough hospitals that lose too many patients are looked down upon while schools that “cull out”  large numbers of students are considered to have high standards. Hospitals that save patients  are considered tops in their areas while schools that do all they can to save students are… Well, they are rare.

We need to act more like hospitals and care about each and every student we admit. Every one of them needs to be saved and kept healthy. It is not enough to admit them. We must provide all the professional services and care they need to succeed or like hospitals, we will be scrutinized even further and many will not survive that.

There is a lot we can learn from hospitals especially the clear focus on each and every patient. They know it is not enough to admit a patient. They have to do all they can to save them too. They also know something that we have not really learned. It takes a great deal of information and data to properly care for a patient/student.

Every test and exam is posted for all doctors to see and in many cases now for the patients to also see, For example, I go to the Ohio State University hospital system for my medical care. Every time I have a blood test, every result is posted on a system they call My Chart. It tells me the result; whether or not that is normal or not and what each test means, I am fully informed. If I have an appointment coming up or need to schedule one, the system sends me an email letting me know. It is in contact with me at all times.

And I can use it to contact my doctors to get more details or help. All I need to do is scroll down and enter an email to a doctor and he or she gets it. And, they respond. Moreover, when I went to the Cleveland Clinic it was able to pull up my entire chart on-line and see all my doctors’ notes and exam results. It was fully informed on me as a patient. It had my record so transfer into their system was simple. I did not have to repeat tests at all.

Schools need to build or obtain systems like this to allow students full access to their records and notes. They need a system as hospitals have to notify him when he needs to do something now to stay healthy. This is a customer service which is needed now to save more students. And in turn, keep more schools from having to shut down or consolidate services as hospitals did in the 80’s

by Dr. Neal Raisman, author of the best selling book The Power of Retention.

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