Being a primary care provider in 2016 can feel like trying to mow the lawn on a hot summer day.
You're trying to do your work, but there are swarms of mosquitoes to deal with. Regulations buzz. Productivity is snapping at you. The smoke of information overload gets in your eyes. Malpractice suits bite. Bosses ask for more and complain about it. Telehealth and care coordination are supposed to make our lives easier, and help us provide better care -- but they start to seem like gnats too: EHR, EMR, electronic orders, cell phone policies, PACS, login, logout, PHI, BAA, ICD-10 CPT, and more.
It's tempting to bury your head in the sand and try to ignore the swarm. But we've found that investing even a small amount of attention on telehealth and care coordination is like putting on bug spray and firing up a dozen citronella candles -- that little bit of investment saves infinite amounts of bother and strain.
Your goals are to get your patient better, find the right care for that patient, and sometimes give comfort at the uncomfortable end of life. Using telemedicine for healthcare collaboration is a powerful tool to help you achieve those goals. But how do you get there? Well, we've worked with countless medical providers on the transition to using telemedicine for healthcare collaboration. The short answer is that you need to develop a workflow and find some products or systems to help you.
A quick note on who this workflow is for...
You may be a caregiver. You may be a nurse's aide, doing all the hard, and at times, dirty work. You may be a physical, occupational, or speech therapist who creates the road to recovery. You may be a nurse in the office, home, factory or floor. You may be a primary care physician or advanced practice provider.
No matter who you are, there are times when you need to ask a question on a case, get a consult, or coordinate care. You can use a tool like iClickCare to collaborate on cases... but what does that collaboration look like? How do you ask the question? What are the steps to making it happen efficiently?
That's what this workflow aims to achieve for any healthcare provider -- but especially primary care providers -- when they are the requesting support, consultation, or collaboration.
A step-by-step workflow for requesting a consult via telemedicine:
- Get focused and take stock.
Sort the data in your head and on the chart. The blood pressure is high. What was it before? Before that? What has been done? What has been skipped?
- Distill the data down to its essence.
An egg salad sandwich a day ago has no impact on an finger injury, but might be highly pertinent when asking about diarrhea.
- Give a brief summary.
Ask your question clearly, be specific about what you want to know.Know your consultants.
Talk to them in their language, or use your language and translate for them. 'Deep tissue injury' is a nursing term and 'full thickness loss' is a plastic surgery term and 'Grade IV' is an orthopedic term -- translating these specialty-specific terms can ease communication. Images help as well!
- Indicate the timing of when you want an answer.
Do you need to interrupt or can it wait? This is the reason we like Hybrid Store-and-Forward® -- you don't have to coordinate timing like you do with videoconferencing. Even very busy people get back to you quite quickly, but at a time that works for them.
- Bring other members of the patient's team on board as the process unfolds.
Be aware that others could be helpful - the lawyers, the reviewers, the patient, the family.
- Give the consultant followup.
Do you agree? Did things work out? Be kind and relieve the originator's stress of wondering.
Whether it is telehealth, care coordination, telemedicine, mHealth, or medical records -- technology does not provide patient care no matter how advanced. You provide that. Fit the technology into your workflow -- not you into theirs. When you manage to do that, you will have the joy and satisfaction of providing great care, not swatting at a bunch of electronic gnats, midges, flies and mosquitos. You will have a peaceful summer afternoon -- everyday.
Medical collaboration doesn't only happen in hospitals. Read our Quick Guide for collaboration tips from across industries:
Image: Scientists Against Malaria