I woke up Friday morning, so-called Black Friday, to check my various electronic methods of communicating with the outside world. One of the first things I saw was this ad on Twitter for Toys ‘R Us, hawking the Fisher Price Medical Kit.
If you think that the healthcare system is 100 years behind the rest of the world’s industries, you should check out the play version. This toy is definitely not going to equip the doctor of tomorrow, or even the average clinician of today.
The Fisher Price Medical Kit has this in its on-line description:
- Preschoolers will love to play doctor or nurse with this handy medical kit
- Everything stores easily in the soft doctor bag
- Lots of accessories for great role-play fun!
- Play pieces include stethoscope, blood pressure cuff with “working” pump, otoscope, thermometer, syringe, and bandage
- Carry and go with this handy medical bag!
Ah, where to begin?! Let’s start with parents’ worst nightmare–that their pre-schoolers are playing doctor. As far as us parents are concerned, that has a whole different meaning, associated more with our high school age kids than preschoolers, or so we hope.
But beyond that, let’s take a look at claim three. Fun! (with an exclamation point) is not what most clinicians say they are having these days. Recent surveys have shown that doctors are pretty dissatisfied with their profession and wouldn’t recommend it to young people. I’m guessing this means that doctors will not be the ones purchasing the Fisher Price Medical Kit for their kids.
As far as the tools go, can you imagine a doctor or nurse being ready to operate effectively in their current healthcare practice armed solely with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, otoscope, thermometer, syringe, bandage and a handy bag for storing them all? Yeah, me neither.
First of all, the functionality of the first four items are available by iPhone or other connected health devices that can be used at home by patients. The basic checking of basic vitals continues at physicians’ offices and hospitals, but is hardly the core of the effort these days. Instead it would be more helpful if the kit included an iPhone for clinicians on which they can check the numerous dashboards that display the patient vitals self-collected as they go about their business. Oh, yeah, and an EMR.
That handy bag? A great tool for holding the reams of documents that would help clinicians comply with Meaningful Use and the ICD-10, although it will be hard to find a bag big enough to hold all that information. And speaking of that, there should be some sort of a marketing toolkit in there, too, to enable small practices to survive in a transparency-focused environment. Fisher Price might even consider offering an upgrade package that can teach aspiring clinicians how to thrive in a staff model clinic, because that is probably where they will be storing their bags when providing telemedicine services; thus the kit also should include HIPAA-compliant tele-consultation software and some stage make-up.
You know what else that kit needs? Risk assessment and population health tools, along with financial risk management skills and your very own life-size accountant. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and if you ask really nicely he can bring you the tools necessary to handle risk-adjusted bundled payments so you can profitably serve dual eligible populations. Otherwise you can use the handy-dandy bandage in the kit to hold together what is left of your financial solvency.
Oh, and patient empathy skills; that would be an excellent addition to the kit to accompany your HCAHPS Star Ratings, which will light up any Christmas tree (or menorah).
I will say that the most useful tool in the current Fisher Price Medical Kit is the syringe; physicians and nurses can use it to self-administer cocktails to help them get a moment’s relief from the ever-evolving state of medical practice. Unfortunately the Toys ‘R Us formulary doesn’t carry bourbon.