Falling through the cracks

This post is #8 in a series of posts about my UX research about UX Maturity. For all other posts, see my UX Strategy page.

Greg’s story

Greg Price was a healthy young man who grew up in Acme, Alberta. He played sports, he was close with his family, and he even had a pilot’s license.

Greg had testicular cancer, one of the most survivable forms of cancer.

Due to a number of mistakes and unnecessary delays, Greg ended up dying from a blood clot just days before his chemo was scheduled to start.

This happened despite the fact that everyone that Greg encountered was a competent, hardworking person who genuinely wanted to give him the best treatment possible.

This happened because of the siloed nature of the Healthcare system and poor communication between those silos. And because of fax machines.

Modern technology and patient-centered care could have prevented Greg’s death, but the healthcare system is slow-moving and resistant to change. “Fail fast” doesn’t fly in life-or-death situations, but that doesn’t mean that healthcare shouldn’t change.

I attended a screening of Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story last week, followed by a panel discussion about the film and healthcare in general. I was motivated as a patient to demand better from my healthcare system and gained increased appreciation for companies like my mentor Meaghan’s startup Mikata Health.

I also learned two valuable lessons from this event.

Lesson 1: The power of storytelling

I was moved by this film.

I’ve heard the stats and anecdotes about how the healthcare system is behind the times when it comes to technology, leading to wasted money and reduced quality of care, but it had never really hit home before I saw this film and Greg’s story.

As I’ve spoken about before, stories are STAR moments: Something They’ll Always Remember. And it’s true, when you give a problem a human face, people will start caring.

I need to use more stories when I’m trying to change minds!

Lesson 2: I’ve got it easy

I’m obsessed with making enterprise software companies more user-centric, which is usually far tougher than doing the same with consumer software companies. However, I didn’t realize until this event that I’ve got it easy compared to the behemoth that is healthcare.

Order of Canada recipient Dr. Ewan Affleck was part of the panel and spoke about a project that he worked on to make one single patient record system for all of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Against all odds, this system is now in place for all 40,000+ patients in the territory.

“Whether you are in Fort Smith or Ulukhaktok or wherever and you have kidney failure, you can have your nephrologist in Edmonton following your results and your blood pressure. You can have the intern in Yellowknife and the GP in Fort Smith. They can then work together to ensure your care is good and it’s not dependent on shipping you around.”

Dr. Ewan Affleck on NWT’s medical records system (source: Northern Journal)

This effort took a mind-blowing 17 years. In a territory with less than 0.2% of Canada’s population. Imagine the work involved in getting the rest of the country on board. Now compare that with convincing 100-1000 employees of a software company to make a similar change.

I’ve got it easy. And I’m so grateful for Greg’s family and Dr. Affleck for sharing their stories and teaching me these lessons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s