"The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”
- Dr. Francis Peabody
The "classic" picture of good care is the family doctor sitting with a patient, having an in-depth conversation. It's about time, and connection, and listening, and experience. It's about a single patient and a single expert connecting about health.
These days, that picture is nonexistent. The demands on care have increased. The time to sit with patients has been stripped. And the idea of a single provider caring for a patient is -- for better and for worse -- no longer ever the situation.
In fact, as Dr. Diane E. Meier in American Medical News, patients see an average of more than 10 specialists in their last 6 months of life; and the number of providers that go through a patient's room in 24 hours is more than 60.
So in this new context, what does it mean to provide the quality of care that used to be the standard, but in a new way?
One question that Dr. Meier brings up is the additional time required to communicate and coordinate care. "How does a team this diverse and large avoid further fragmenting the patient's care? Just the amount of time required for a team of this size to stay in close communication with one another could result in even less time available to be with the patient. How do high-functioning teams avoid falling into this trap?"
The components of this collaboration are identified within the article, and align well with the principles we used in designing the functioning of iClickCare, including:
- Role clarity
- Regular, respectful and open communication among all members
- Attention to quality metrics and quality improvement
- Appropriate, ongoing training.
Ideally, care coordination and communication doesn't add appreciable amounts of time to a providers day. Ideally, collaboration is integral to the work and the workflow. And the ONLY way for this to occur is if the team is able to communicate simply, with tools that are already available, and in ways that integrate with their workflow.Meier adds, "Serving our patients and their loved ones means understanding what is important — what matters most to them, what their fears are, what their hopes are, what they are hoping medical care can do for them."
No longer is it enough to know that a single provider -- like the family doctor -- will know the patient, their needs, their context, and their family. We now work in teams. So the only option available to us is to use tools that support us in collaborating effectively (and without a huge investment in time) so that the patient is at the center of care -- and that our collaboration tools allow us to understand and share who the patient is as a whole person.