As healthcare providers, every interaction we have with patients is potentially life and death.
So it’s easy to write off non-medical aspects of our patients life as “fluff” or “soft stuff” or say “we can worry about that once we’ve beaten this.”
For us, though, we’ve found in decades of providing care for our patients, that these “quality of life” things are far from fluff. These elements of patients' lives can often be more impactful to their overall recovery and healing than any medicine or intervention. So a recent study confirming just that was both validating and fascinating.
When a teenage swimmer comes to us with a limp that might be a potential neurological problem, making sure that she’s able to go to swim practice rather than bouncing from appointment to appointment is a crucial part of ensuring her speedy recovery. Getting an older man home to recover from heart surgery where he can also garden (rather than lie in a hospital bed) is simply a better path to healing.
These are all reasons that iClickCare exists. Telemedicine-based healthcare collaboration allows providers to collaborate on behalf of the patient, asynchronously, and across the continuum of care. That means that patients spend less time in exam rooms and waiting rooms and hospital rooms. And more time in the spaces and places that are nourishing and healing to them (like a swim practice or a garden.)
Along similar lines, a recent study really validated this approach. The study's lead author is Dr. Anup Patel of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is a pediatric neurologist who focuses on the severest of epilepsy patients. He had many patients over the years who received a "wish" through the Make a Wish Foundation -- choosing a wishes like a trip to Paris, meeting a celebrity, or a day in their dream profession. And anecdotally, he found that patients who received wishes from Make a Wish did better, got better results, and were happier for long after the wish. So Dr. Patel decided to do a real study.
As Fierce Healthcare reports: "The study compared patients who received or did not receive a wish and associated impact on healthcare utilization and costs across two years. Looking at the electronic health record database from 2011 to 2016, 496 Nationwide Children’s Hospital patients received a wish. These were matched to the same number of a control group based on age, gender, disease category and disease complexity. The average cost of a granted "wish" is a little more than $10,000. By his study's calculation, there was a decrease in the cost of care of about $10,130 two years after a wish is granted."
So the wishes saved more in medical expenses than they cost. Plus, patients who were granted a wish experienced fewer hospital admissions and fewer trips to the emergency room. So far beyond the joy of the experience, patients were measurably healthier, and had better outcomes.
I really respect Dr. Patel's curiosity and courage in exploring the effect of these wishes on his patients -- and his rigor in measuring the effects. This kind of holistic perspective -- combining qualitative concerns with quantitative measures -- is such a powerful way of advancing medicine.