ClickCare Café

Talking to Your Patients May Be The Most Effective Part of Their Treatment

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Feb 08, 2017 @ 06:30 AM

coversationbag.jpgMany healthcare providers fell in love with science first, and medicine second.

Innovation, scientific advancements, academic rigor, and medical sophistication are in our blood.

That said, the more we advance our understanding of medicine, the more we see that medicine is about more than just hard science and concrete treatment interventions.

Our medical training has always shown us that: 

  • More "specialized" and "advanced" providers are not more important that other providers on the continuum of care.
  • Medicine is about wellness, not just the absence of disease.
  • Healing is more complex than just implementing surgical or medicine-based interventions.
  • Medical care is most effective in a context of care, not considered in isolation.
  • We can only provide effective care to patients through medical collaboration.

Two recent articles reminded me of these currents in medicine and struck me in terms of their importance.

First, The Conversation Placebo looks at a study in which several physical therapy treatments for back pain were compared: electrical stimulation only; placebo, electrical stimulation with in-depth provider-to-patient conversation; placebo with in-depth provider-to-patient conversation.

While electrical stimulation outperformed placebo alone, conversation with placebo outperformed electrical stimulation alone. The best performer of all of the treatments was electrical stimulation with in-depth provider-to-patient communication. 

In other words, the conversations we have with our patients may well be the most important part of their treatment plan -- more important, even, than the medicine we give them. 

The second article looks at the huge "workforce" of unpaid caregivers (like family members) who are providing care in this country. This article argues that these caregiver providers are an indispensable part of healthcare, and yet they are poorly supported and integrated into the care plans of patients. The author says, "health systems, under pressure to reduce costs, increasingly rely on [unpaid caregivers like family members] to manage illness at home."

"There’s more we medical professionals can do to improve the way we engage, support and educate them. Family caregivers aren’t always clearly listed in the medical record, and even when they are, we often fail to include them in important decisions about a patient’s treatment plan — despite expecting them to carry out that plan at home."

Both of these articles point to a valuing of the elements of healthcare that may not be highly paid, traditionally valued, or empirically proven. But both caregivers and doctor-patient conversation are some of the most important backbones of real medical care.

But we need tools that will help us approach medicine in this kind of holistic, inclusive, collaborative way  we need tools to do medicine right. In fact, most medical providers have no HIPAA compliant way to include caregivers in any conversation about care  or to inform them of the care plan in any formal way. That's why iClickCare allows medical providers to collaborate on cases and enable free-form conversation between the medical providers and the patients. To that end, we have an "invite patient" feature, which can be used for patients or caregivers. 

As you evolve your medical practice, you're not alone. There have been tools built to help you  every step of the way. 

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Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, long term care

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