Justin Williams, in describing the dilemma of quality versus quantity in marketing, said that "In a perfect world, a brand sends the perfect number of perfectly composed emails to elicit the maximum response possible. In the real world, email marketers must balance between quantity and quality."
I think about this often as I'm doing my work as a respiratory therapist. On some days I have only a few patients, and they get 100% of my attention all the time. Sometimes I'm able to sit and talk to them, and this type of social interaction brings joy to both me and my patients. Other times I can spend more time assessing my patients, resulting in them getting better care.
On these days, when the emergency room calls, they have my undivided attention right away. When a nurse or hospitalist needs my services, they have my undivided attention right away. This results in better patient care, better coworker satisfaction, and better satisfaction for myself too.
On other days, however, I have many patients, and doctors are writing many orders. On these days I'm hard pressed to get my work done in a timely manner. I usually get it done, yet at the end of the day I'm often left wondering if I could have given better care. I never feel satisfied at the end of these days.
On the other hand, some say that we as RTs accomplish more on the busy days, and therefore should feel good about ourselves. It's being busy like this that results in us keeping our jobs and the hospital making money. Yet what those people fail to see is that such busy days result in quantity at the expense of quality. You see, you can't have it both ways.
I think of this when my coworkers complain when it's too busy. I think of this when my RT friends online tell me how overwhelmed they feel at work. I think of this when nurses complain that they have too many patients due to poor staffing.
Keep in mind here that sacrificing quality for quantity is not all the hospitals fault, nor the physician's fault. For instance, it's not their fault, on certain days, weeks and months, every person with a chronic disease gets sick and requires the services of a hospital. Technically speaking, there's no way to plan for these busy days.
An ongoing conundrum of the healthcare industry, as well as any other industry, is finding the perfect balance between quality and quantity.
Yet in healthcare, this is a time tested challenge that may never be overcome. For instance, store managers can look at sales from April to May last year and plan for this year based on last year's sales. It's not so easy to do in healthcare, mainly because it's impossible to know when people will get sick.
To twist Justin William's words for our own purposes: "In a perfect world, a hospital staffs the perfect number of perfectly performing physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists to elicit the maximum care possible. In the real world, staffing is a balance between quantity and quality."