Three Simple Questions

March 11, 2009


lollipops-450By John Munce, Deployment Executive, The Tatham Group

Last week I went in for a little outpatient procedure.  To me, any surgery is major surgery.  But to the doctors it was minor, routine, no big deal.  

When I arrived for the pre-surgery checklist with the three nurses and the anesthetist the clerk handed me an admissions packet.  I flipped through it.  The contents were much more interesting than I expected.

The section that caught my attention is titled “Ask Me 3” followed by the subtitle “Good Questions for Your Good Health.”  It’s all about how I can help the medical team take excellent care of me.  Here’s what the heart of the section says:

“Every time you talk with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, use the Ask Me 3 questions to better understand your health.

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?”

Can it be any simpler?   I’ve been through a serious medical issue and I know how hard it can be to understand what medical professionals say, to keep it in perspective or to even have an idea of what to ask.  This little tool gives me a way to navigate those scary waters.  Even if I’m thrown for a loop, I can always come back to these really simple questions.

The rest of the section has a space for you to write the answers, a little additional explanation, plus some encouragement.  An easy-to-use two pages that puts me more in charge of my medical care.  You can check it out at www.npsf.org/askme3.

My mind jumped to when I was a corporate exec-type and sponsored process improvement teams.  I remember sometimes wondering what really needed to be done.  I’d get all these proposals, but it wasn’t always clear why I needed to say yes or what we’d get out of it.

Improvement Proposals (Step 9 of the Tatham Method) are intended to make a compelling case for immediate action.  The Ask Me 3 questions could be a good summary of what the discussion and presentation and document needs to say. If you answer those clearly and simply, you got me.

If the team poses and then answers the questions, they win.  If the executives pose and listen for the answer to these questions, they win. Now that’s an elegant tool.

I’ve got a new management tool courtesy of Presbyterian Outpatient Surgery.  It’s almost like getting the lollipop after getting my first haircut.