One of the concepts we see as crucial to healthcare is care coordination. We're proud of how iClickCare helps medical providers coordinate, allowing better care and fewer things getting "lost in the cracks."
So we were excited to notice a recent article on the "5 Pieces of the Care Coordination Puzzle." But upon reading it, we felt a level of disappointment. Just as medicine is an art, not just a science or a set of tasks, care coordination is not just about mechanics. Rather, when we think about care coordination, we think more along the lines of "care collaboration" in which multiple medical providers work together on behalf of the patient, in creative and caring ways. "Coordination" implies project management and the top down controller. While understandable from some institutional efficiency perspectives, it ignores the empowerment of the patient and the provider that results from old-fashioned conversations.
Ideas like the one the author quotes (from this article), "Physicians giving up their autonomy is not actually surrender but a noble act" completely miss the point. True care collaboration is not so much about the institution or the provider but rather about, and centered around, the patient. It is a responsive, creative team approach in which everyone leads or follows at the moment that either role is appropriate. So one need not give lip service to participation of, or working with, “pharmacists and other specialists”, but rather should ensure that all members of the team contribute, coordinate, care, and collaborate.
Whether it's the coordination of multiple providers, the integration of remote monitoring tools, engagement of the patient, or any other aspect of effective medicine, it works best when the following pieces are in place:
- Medical providers are given the tools they need to communicate and collaborate. There are necessary medical collaboration tools like iClickCare, and there are the "soft" tools like having sufficient time. But neither coordination nor collaboration can happen without them.
- There is trust. The institution needs to trust the providers; the providers must trust each other; the medical team must trust the patient as an "expert" in his own experience and his own disease.
- Everyone is willing to do whatever it takes for good medicine to happen. Sometimes that means the most efficient choice, and sometimes it means spending an "unreasonable" amount of time on something. Sometimes it means collaboration and sometimes it means holding a patient's hand.
We believe that when providers work together for their patients, good things happen. It doesn't get more coordinated -- or more effective or efficient -- than that.
And we put together a "field guide" to medical collaboration. People are finding it inspiring and useful and you can get your free copy here:
Image courtesy of unicefethiopia on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.