Monday, October 17, 2005


Slipped over and broke my ankle yesterday. Not good! We had been away for the weekend at a really nice set of cottages in the rainforest of Mt Glorious, near Brisbane. (Great driving roads, by the way. Brisbane's answer to the Adelaide Hills.) As we were packing the car and preparing to leave, I stepped onto the deck for the last time and slipped.

It's often surprising that there's no coherent approach when things like this happen. By that I mean that there's no-one who is looking at the situation from my point of view, and either designing the process around me or guiding me through it. Yet another example of where "Lean Consumption" would work really well. In this instance I am a health care consumer.

Note that I am writing this from the Australian health care system, so terms like WorkCover, Medicare and the details of how private health insurance works in this country may be unfamiliar to overseas readers.

Where do you go if you have a damaged ankle, but don't know if it's broken, torn or sprained? Should I report to a public hospital emergency room? Private hospital emergency room? 24 hour medical centre? General Practitioner for referrerals?

Exactly what's covered by my private health insurance? Apparently the emergency treatment at the private hospital is not. The GP and X-rays were not. What about the specialist's fees, when I go to see him next week? Crutches hire?

Once the break is confirmed, now what do I do? Since it's my right ankle, I can't drive for up to 6 weeks. Should I get a taxi to work and back for the next six weeks? Who pays for that? Is it covered by Medicare, private health insurance, WorkCover, the public liability insurance of the place where it happened, or no-one? How do I find out?

Is there anything I should be doing to speed my recovery? Heat/cold packs? Elevation? Pressure? Vitamins? Exercise? Is there a period of rest required, or should I return to work as soon as possible? What about pain relief - I've been prescribed Panadeine Forte, should I try and abstain, substitute Panadol / Paracetamol if adequate or combine with Nurofen for swelling? All of these topics were only treated very superficially. Yet each step in the chain has fulfilled the requirements they set for themselves - because they are looking at the process from their viewpoint, not the consumers. Defining value from the customer's point of view is the first step in Lean!


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