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Introducing “SOAP Notes on the Business of Health Care”

By Eva Luo | Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Just days before my White Coat Ceremony, marking the start of medical school, I was in Washington D.C. organizing a conference bringing together some of the nation’s top performing health systems to understand "How Do They Do That?" in order to shape national health reform. The conference highlighted how unique factors within each local ecosystem led to pockets of innovation that transformed how health care was delivered.  I carried each health system’s stories of successes and challenges with me to medical school. During my first two years of medical school, when I was immersed in the basic sciences of medicine, these stories shrunk and became tiny buoys floating in an ocean of medical facts. But, as I entered the wards for my third year clinical rotations, the stories began to grow in size with every patient interaction until I couldn’t ignore them any longer.

So, instead of joining my wonderful classmates on the residency interview trail as they wrap up their last year of medical school, I packed my bags and moved back to Boston to start business school. In business school, I hope to better understand the business side of health care in order to contribute towards fundamentally improving the quality of health care delivery. 

I’m introducing “SOAP Notes on the Business of Health Care”, as a regular “column” of the IHI Open School Blog where I will share my musings about health care as I journey through business school. What is a “SOAP note” you ask? A “SOAP note” is a standardized format used in medicine to document an evaluation of a patient. SOAP is an acronym for Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan. With every blog post, I will be evaluating our health care system in this format to assess the progress of my thinking about health care. I also hope it will provide a succinct summary of what otherwise may read like endless rambling. 

Whether the ultimate solutions to a better health care system can be found in the private sector, I’m not entirely sure. But, I will embrace the entrepreneurial spirit found in business as I begin my search and hope you will join me. 

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