Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Glossary of Health Care Jargon

These are dark times for health care everywhere. I'm here to help you decipher the terms.


We keep hearing it: budgets are tight; wait lists are long; and providers are burning out. The bureaucrats and politicians keep talking and talking, but what is it they're actually saying? How do we see through the fog of political language to learn what's really going on in a struggling health care system? As a public service to you, my loyal audience, I'm pleased to offer this glossary to take with you the next time you meet with a health care leader near you.

Accountability: Do as we say, it's our money

All hands on deck: You fix the problem, and you guessed it, there's no new money

Capacity building: (Reluctantly) spending money in a tangible way

Clearly defined roles: We decide, you do

Community-based: Complain to the local office, not us

Consultation: We're interested in hearing your opinion. We won't act on it, but you'll have to admit that we heard it

Continuity of care: What happens out of hospital stays out of hospital

Continuous Quality Improvement: Pick some numbers you think you can improve upon, then go ahead and improve upon them

Create synergies: You work for different departments and/or organizations...you figure it out

Deliverable: What we demand of you; an arbitrary and probably unrealistic target metric

Disruptive innovation: Half-baked ideas

Duplication of service: A waste of money that's too expensive and too onerous to stop doing

Falling through the cracks: Nobody really cares, but we need to make it look like we do


Finding efficiencies: Do more with less, or else

Framed through a determinants-of-health lens: A mixed metaphor that's a fancy way of saying being poor sucks

Front-line concern: Go bitch to your supervisor, not me

Game-changing potential: It's cool, I'll grant you, but how much will it cost?

Grass-roots effort: You did good. Next time use the proper channels

Highlighting an important issue: That's a good thought, but we don't care

Holistic: The plan includes stuff we have no control over, and therefore screw-ups are someone else's fault

In the current fiscal climate: There's no new money, so don't bother to ask

Inclusiveness; Respectful of diversity: We invite people from all walks of life - women, LGBT, visible minorities - to think and act as we do 

Integrated: The departments in question eat lunch together once a month

Leverage core competencies: Keep reminding everyone of what we still get right

Local decision-making: ...for which we're not responsible

Local partners: Whoever we sit on committees with that have their own money


Low-hanging fruit: A cheap-to-solve problem. Let's do it and milk the credit forever

Opportunities for excellence: What we suck at

Patient-centered: ??? A phrase that has no substantive meaning

Priority areas: Where the ugliest headlines have come from

Restructuring: Putting a bunch of non-union people out to pasture

Shifting care to the community: Cutting hospital budgets

Silos: Our bosses aren't on speaking terms. Also, our software systems are totally incompatible

Stakeholder engagement: Hear us out for an hour and we'll feed you from Subway

Targeted investments: Spending where the swing voters live

Transparency: The auditors need to be able to follow the money, but don't say anything to the press

Unwavering fundamental commitment: It's already in this year's and next year's budgets, so stop badgering

Value for money: Do more with less, and we'll acknowledge it in our report

We'll take it under advisement: Thanks for the input. Now go fuck yourself



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