When you’re facing a potential surgery, there’s no doubt that information is power. And QualityPath patients have a powerful source of information.

For example, it’s powerful when patients choose a high-quality doctor and hospital to move forward with knee replacement, total hip replacement or coronary artery bypass graft (heart bypass surgery).

But it’s just as powerful – if not more powerful – when these patients work with doctors, nurses and other professionals to decide that surgery might not be the right answer.

Navigating the System

In my role as patient experience manager, I help potential QualityPath patients navigate the health care system. I answer their questions, provide information about participating doctors and hospitals, talk to them about how to prepare for surgery and help them plan ahead to ensure a better outcome.

I know the difference it makes when QualityPath patients engage in shared decision-making with doctors and other professionals. Shared decision-making is part of the patient-centered process that is required to participate in QualityPath.

In a patient-centered process, patients are fully informed about their condition and the potential risks and benefits of surgery. Patients have a voice in important decisions, including whether to have the procedure and at what point.

Sometimes, QualityPath patients say “no”

Sometimes, the patient and their doctor together say “no” to surgery. That’s been the case for four QualityPath patients who explored whether they needed either total hip replacement or knee replacement surgeries.

Typically, these patients learned that they could get relief from symptoms with other forms of care at this time. Some even make gains in their personal health. For example, one patient who had knee pain worked to lose weight while improving fitness through swimming. In a follow-up call, the patient reported that they now have minimal pain, without surgery.

Of course, it’s possible that at least some of these patients will eventually require some form of additional treatment; perhaps even a knee or hip replacement. But in the meantime, they have avoided the stress of unnecessary care as well as any potential complications. Along the way, they’ve also saved the cost of the surgery and recovery for their employer’s health plan.

Lessons Learned

In working with QualityPath patients, I’m continually reminded of “lessons learned” that can benefit all patients facing a serious surgery or treatment:

  1. A second opinion from a trusted provider can be life-altering. First, it can save you from unnecessary surgery, which always carries with it the potential for unexpected events. Second, it gives you peace of mind in the knowledge that sometimes, waiting is the right decision.
  2. Information is power. If you have good information, you can decide whether you want to treat your condition conservatively while you take a few weeks or a few months to think about it. If you decide to pursue surgery, you can proceed feeling good that you’re making a wise decision.
  3. Working with high-quality providers is always reassuring. QualityPath doctors and hospitals meet national quality measures and agree to patient-center processes, which means the choices you make about your care will be well-informed. Because of the way QualityPath is structured, you can feel comfortable that your provider has your best interests in mind.

Improving the Odds

As a registered nurse, I truly believe every patient has the right to a good outcome from medical care. Whether that means having surgery – or not having surgery – I’m happy to help them navigate the health care system to work toward a good outcome through QualityPath.

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Margie Czechowicz

Margie Czechowicz

Patient Experience Manager at The Alliance

Margie Czechowicz, RN, BSN, CCM, joined The Alliance in 2014 as patient experience manager. Margie is a registered professional nurse with significant experience in delivering excellence in care to patients and their families. She previously served as a nurse case manager at Group Health Cooperative, complex case manager for Physicians Plus Insurance Company and clinical nurse navigator for UW Health Partners.

Read more blog posts by Margie