The airline industry, one of MANY industries healthcare is compared to, is also the one industry healthcare has incorporated the most safety measures from.
Thus far, “In the first half of 2015 [Jan-Jun 2015] passenger complaints rose 20% [WOW!] despite better overall performance by airline”.
First, “The number of fliers angered about airfares nearly tripled—from less than 300 in the first six months of last year [Jan-Jun 2014] to 870 so far this year”.
WOW! 870 complained the prices were TOO(!) expensive. WOW! 870 from just 300 for the same period last year. WOW! That is a 35% increase in complaints. WOW! That is unheard of. How do the airlines stay in business when 35% of travelers complain that the price is TOO HIGH?
Wait a minute. Everyday, YES(!), EVERYDAY! Some 2.2 MILLION, YES(!) MILLION, with an M, MILLION, commercial passengers fly over our nation.
The “guestimated” math:
-815 million passengers/year / 2 = 407 million passengers between Jan-Jun / 182 days = 2.2 MILLION passengers/day.
-Of the 407 MILLION who traveled between Jan-Jun 2015 a whopping 870 complained that airline prices were too expensive. Now, do that math (870 / 407 million) to see how insignificant those 870 who complained are.
Yet, the article claims an OUTRAGEOUS 35% increase, from 300 to 870, complained that the price was TOO expensive. But the math shows it to be 870 complainers from a possible 407 million who travelled during the same time. So, how is that worth of even mentioning? Easy! The OUTRAGEOUS 35% increase is what gets eyes to read the article and administrators, especially healthcare administrators, all worked up for nothing because a moment was NOT spent to critically evaluate “The Numbers” (a chapter title in the book) to notice their actual insignificance. Again, do not let numbers overwhelm you.
In the book I point out, that less than one-fifth of one percent (0.17%) of the patients I saw submitted complaints (The Math: 7 of almost 4,000 patients per year). Of course, I thought that was an insignificant statistic, however, here the airlines have me beat. And by a LOT! Yet, someone thinks the airlines are doing a terrible job.
The article here goes on to mention that 3,100 complained about delays and cancellations, a 15% increase from the previous year, “…despite data that shows 77.7% of flights arrived on time during that period [Jan-Jun 2015], up from about 74% from last year .
Now look at these numbers, “On an average day, air traffic controllers [in the USA] handle 28,537 commercial flights”.
-28,537 commercial flights/DAY(!) x 182 days (Jan-Jun 2015) = 5,193,734 (commercial flights between Jan-Jun 2015)
-Again, 3,100 complained of 407 MILLION passengers during the same time period and on the same 5 MILLION flights during that time, yet, only 3,100 complained—but, of course, reported as a 15% increase.
-5,193,734 commercial flights between Jan-Jun 2015 x 77.7% arrived on time = 4,035,531
-Of course, the article does not mention the 64 MILLION/year total takeoffs and landings in the USA, which accounts for some 87,000 flights per day (commercial, private, for hire, military, and cargo) that air traffic controllers MUST manage on a daily basis across our nation. That being, “At any given moment [MOMENT!] roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the [USA].” That is a LOT to manage.
-4,035,531 commercial flights that arrived on time / 182 days = 22173 of 28,537 flights/DAY(!) where 87,000 flights per day are being managed. I would say those are some pretty good numbers considering the sheer volume of daily flights over our country. On that note, I always mention that when we do the driving ourselves we leave late and arrive late more often than not. Yet, don’t let a plane leave or arrive late because someone will have a hissy fit. Not to mention, most airline delays and cancellations are in the passengers best interest as airlines have NOTHING to gain by flying an aircraft that is not flight worthy or whatever other reason.
Who are the 3,100 of 407 million complaining? Who else but those with EXAGGERATED UNREALISTIC EMOTIONAL EXPECTATIONS! That’s who. And they always manage to get ALL the attention too.
Interestingly, the article mentions, “despite data that shows 77.7% of flights arrived on time during that period, up from about 74% from last year ”. Those numbers, 77.7% and 74%, are really insignificant. Yet, when left alone capture one’s attention. If the “data” link, in the article’s second paragraph, were followed to the “U.S. Department of Transportation: Air Travel Consumer Report” PDF site those percentages in the 74-77% range are more common than not. I mention that because in the book I also mention that ratings between 70-80% are more common than not. And, even Frank Lee, the healthcare customer satisfaction, oops, customer EXPERIENCE guru, points out on his website, “According to a 2009 Healthcare Advisory Board [whatever that is] report, patient satisfaction scores have been stuck at about 82% for the past 10 year!”
Likely, that 82% healthcare has been stuck at is the higher end of where healthcare has been STUCK(!). If you follow the HCAHPS ratings the national average for those organizations participating is, TADA TADA (A bit of comic relief, work with me, horns blowing prior to announcement.), a whopping 71%.
The hospital I last worked at, before asked to resign because of patient complaints, has an average of, TADA TADA, 70.2%—made sure to throw in the 0.2% so that no one thinks I cheated them. Interesting, when I was asked to resign I recall commenting to the emergency department director that the average at the time was 75% and likely was 75% before I went to work there and likely would be 75% after I left. However, it seems not to be the case but instead is at 70.2%. Huh? Not saying I was the reason for 75% then versus the current 70.2% now but interesting nonetheless. And more interesting since the hospital’s HCAHPS is even less than the nation average of 71%, keep in mind, administrators see that 1% as a HUGE difference. And although 1% may be statistically significant it really is NOT in these numbers.
A more significant number is this, “Using a weighted average of the 4 studies, a lower limit of 210,000 deaths per year was associated with preventable harm in hospitals. Given limitations in the search capability of the Global Trigger Tool and the incompleteness of medical records on which the Tool depends, the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year. Serious harm seems to be 10- to 20-fold more common than lethal harm.” Not my words but published in Journal of Patient Safety (Sep 2013 Vol-9 Issue-3 p. 122-128) and worth looking at when healthcare administrators shake about customer satisfaction scores. Yet, sentinel events do NOT raise the same uproar as a patient’s complaint.
-400,000/year or 1,095/day and now the 3 leading cause of death in the USA after Heart disease (611,105), Cancer (584,881), Medical Errors (400,000), Respiratory disease (149,205) Accidents (130,557), Stroke (128,978), etc.
-That is about 3 planes/day falling out of the sky and everyone on board is killed. So how can healthcare compare itself to the airline industry?
-Because when one plane falls out of the sky everyone is up in arms. Yet, 1,095 are killed every year from medical errors and nothing.
For the record, NOT the reason I say healthcare is like no other industry. Those reasons are, healthcare is:
-the only industry with patients
-the only industry genuinely dedicated to helping others
-the only industry in which services are sought during some of the worse moments of our lives and during inconvenient times, for uncertain, unpredictable and volatile choices in places that are unknown, unpleasant and unforgiving
-the only industry where regardless of disposable income or time services are sought after and rendered
-the only industry where workers are extensively VETTED before trusted with doing our jobs despite we attend accredited schools, are finger-printed, are recertified at least every year for one thing or another, and undergo recredentialing at least biyearly to ensure we did not commit some wrong doing our employer was not aware of
-the only industry whose workers maintain the public’s confidence year after year as the public has recognized us as the most honest profession and with the greatest ethical standard of any other industry
-most notable, healthcare is the only industry where workers go to battle for every “so-called customer” and when “so-called customers” succumb—we cry for them as well
The point here, do not let the numbers of customer satisfaction/excellence blind you and much less guide your practice or the treatment of those you employ. Just my two sense [sic].