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The Momma Test
Over the years, one of my favorite things to do has been to work with / speak to / address college students. They are young, aren’t yet set in their ways, still hope to save the world, are naive to the “follow the money” aspects of healthcare and, honestly, it’s just plain fun. Last week I had the privilege of participating in an ethics debate for a well-known and respected university in a course called Controversies in Healthcare (medical, legal, and bio ethics), to a combination group of law students and medical students, on the topic of independent advocacy – vs – hospital advocacy. My co-debater was the Director of Ombudsman at a very well-known and respected hospital system. The idea, since it was a “controversies” class, was that we were supposed to argue that our own solutions were the better solutions, and that the opposing solution was not a good choice. But we totally missed that mark! The Director of Ombudsman, who I will call Susan (because I didn’t ask for permission to write about her) and I tried as we could to find places to argue our own points – but mostly we just agreed. It turned out to be a marvelous conversation about how advocates, interior and exterior to the hospital, could be complementary. To me, it was a great lesson in how good hospitals (note – not ALL hospitals, but GOOD hospitals) are shifting their management of patient problems, admitting when they are not the best choice for a patient or family member, and are becoming more aware of what independent advocates can do for their own hospital patients. As Susan and I discussed those situations and capabilities, I was reminded of a conversation I had years ago with a C-suite administrator from a hospital who had the patient advocacy staff working in his group. He was trying to convince me that their patient advocacy staff were focused solely on the hospital’s patients, and then told me how he measures their success. He called it the Momma Test. He told me that whenever a patient complaint…