In a ten-minute span, the average healthcare provider might return a phone call, make an incisive diagnosis, listen deeply to a patient, check a chart, fill out the EMR, and check the labs on this morning's patient.
The focus, ability to perform under pressure, caring, and excellence of medical providers is pretty astounding, I have to say.
But there is one way in which we might be failing our patients without knowing it.
In our intensity, speed, productivity, and care for our patients, there is one thing that is easy to forget: they heal best outside of a medical setting, ultimately. Of course, a doctor, a visit, and a hospital are all critical to a patient becoming healthy -- but too much time in these contexts comes at a cost for them.
Each of our patients is a person outside of our 4 walls. They have work, hobbies, families, and pets. They have things that make them relaxed and things that make them stressed. And for the most part, good providers remember this and even tailor the care plan to be optimal for all of these elements of "real life."
But a recent article in the New York Times reminded me that things as subtle as fresh air, light, and plants can have a dramatic impact on our health. Being indoors too much affects our circadian rhythm, which is intimately related to healing. Levels of cortisol are higher in indoor spaces. Poor ventilation and higher levels of carbon dioxide can affect both mood and cognitive performance. And of course, we remember that a study has shown that "patients whose windows looked out on views of nature needed less pain medication and were released from the hospital on average about a day earlier than those whose rooms faced a bare brick wall."
So what does this have to do with how we care for our patients?
It's a reminder that every hour in the hospital is an hour that the patient can't be puttering in their garden or going to the park, healing with fresh air and sunlight. It's a reminder that care delays, waiting in the waiting room, and waiting to be discharged all keep the patient from being in his/her ideal space, healing.
We talk about how iClickCare improves care coordination and medical collaboration. And of course, collaborating more efficiently saves providers time and supports better care plans. But it also means that our patients can be back into a natural, healing place that is supportive to them getting healthy -- faster. When our patients aren't bouncing from appointment to appointment... aren't waiting hours, days, and months for care... aren't sitting in a waiting room, waiting for a referral -- they can be back in the spaces and people that are most healthy for them.
Want to see if iClickCare can help you with care coordination? Try it for free: