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Do Hospitals Hide Data that Could Help with Care Coordination?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

daan-stevens-282446-unsplashI’ve always said that it’s better to stay out of the hospital.

When confronted with risks of infection, error, or complications — it’s of course better to stay healthy and stay home.

But sometimes an elective surgery is wise or an emergency hospital stay is necessary. And in those cases, all of us want to be sure that our patients are safe.

But recent data and evidence has begged the question — are hospitals incentivized to hide infections when they occur?

I have to believe that almost all hospitals across the country prioritize patient well-being above any concerns about reputation or profitability.

But when antibiotic resistance combines with age-old concerns about infection and sickness in hospitals, things get serious. And even good intentions  for instance, to thoroughly investigate an outbreak without alarming people  can end up hiding data and information that could keep people safe. 

And the reality is that we all depend on hospitals sharing this information on their own behalf because there aren't agencies that will do so for them. In fact, as the New York Times reports, "under its agreement with states, the CDC is barred from publicly identifying hospitals that are battling to contain the spread of dangerous pathogens."  For instance in 2016, there was an outbreak of a drug-resistant pathogen in a Kentucky hospital  but it was not until 2018 that the CDC issued a report on the outbreak. And, of course, hospitals themselves have often "circled the wagons" when an outbreak occurs, looking into the infections themselves rather than sharing information more broadly. 

I completely understand wanting to limit public disclosure, especially in cases when public perception could be misinformed and reactive. Infection is complex and hospitals are often so big, they're like miniature cities, with outbreaks affecting a small minority of people.

But I do wonder whether the instinct to limit information about drug resistant infectious outbreaks within the medical community make sense. In fact, the tendency to limit information in this way is common in medicine, both at the level of the institution and at the level of the individual provider. We're under such immense pressure and scrutiny in the medical community  with such devastating consequences if mistakes are made  that many providers and organizations learn that it's better to keep information to yourself. The medical community often notices that "silos" keep excellent care, medical collaboration, and greater efficiency from happening  but the reality is that many of us have incentives to maintain those silos. So when an outbreak of an infection occurs, hospitals try to limit misinformation or panic  and in so doing, may limit information that could help other providers do care coordination or support them in solving the problem. 

I hope that hospitals are doing the best they possibly can to prevent outbreaks, as well as sharing information when the outbreaks occur. But I also know that all of us in medicine should learn to share information more freely, collaborate more effectively, and put our patients' care well above our own instinct to hide missteps or needs for support. And we hope that iClickCare can play a role in helping providers share information securely, safely, and without risking negative consequences. 

 

Try iClickCare for sharing information among the medical community members and within your medical team  safely and securely:  

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Tags: medical collaboration, care coordination

Care Coordination Failures Cause Long Term Care Transfer Issues

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

martha-dominguez-de-gouveia-572638-unsplashFor the older people at Long Term Care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, even small issues — like a simple fall — end up with a transfer to the emergency room. Those visits to the ER can often mean a hospital stay as well. And of course, hospital stays can cause backtracking for overall strength, wellness, dementia, and disease. The best case scenario  a visit to a doctor instead of a visit to an ER  can still mean bouncing from provider to provider, with a lot of stress and physical challenges along the way. 

But aren't these ER visits, hospital stays, and doctors' visits simply the necessary realities of life. New insights and ways of working point to innovative solutions to this Business As Usual problem. 

There are 30,000 assisted living facilities in the US. As the New York Times reports, “most assisted living facilities have no doctors on site or on call; only about half have nurses on staff or on call.”

That means that if an event happens  a virus, a fall, a concern about a worsening condition  it results in a transfer, doctor's appointment, or ER visit, the vast majority of the time. Of course, coordination of medical transfers, tests, appointments, and the like can be a huge challenge for any person — but throw in significant physical challenges and perhaps cognitive impairment and the challenges compound.

“The assisted living industry has to recognize that the model of residents going out to see their own doctors hasn’t worked for a long time,” said Christopher Laxton, executive director of The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. “It’s an expensive, disruptive response to problems that often could be handled in the building, if health care professionals were more available to assess residents and provide treatment when needed.”

It's a way of caring for people that hurts the patient, the provider, the Long Term Care facility, and even the hospitals. Hospitals will stay away from sending their patients back to the community if they are afraid they’ll be readmitted within 30 days of discharge. And Long Term Care organizations may shy away from getting the right care for their residents if it often results in backsliding in their care. 

So what is the solution?

One solution has been to have a geriatrician on staff. But realistically, that doesn’t solve the problem. There will be myriad medical problems that fall outside of the expertise or time of that provider. 

There are two key things that need to happen:

  • Hospitals should partner with assisted living and nursing home facilities that have the means to do medical collaboration and prevent readmissions.
  • Long Term Care facilities must find ways to get the medical consults they need without putting their residents through the stress and danger of ER visits and bouncing among doctors’ appointments.

To facilitate those goals, though, hospitals, doctors, nurses, aides, and care providers at Long Term Care facilities need a platform to collaborate. The ideal scenario is that if a resident has a fall that isn't actually worrisome but could use "an extra pair of eyes,"  an aide can take a photo or video, consult with a trusted provider at a practice or hospital in the community, and keep the patient at home base until or unless a transfer is needed. It's good care in every way: it saves money, decreases readmissions, and ultimately supports the best possible health, wellness, and quality of life for the patient. It's a classic example, too, of why email or text messaging  in addition to not being HIPAA compliant  aren't nearly sufficient. In cases like this, whole teams are involved and cases need to by asynchronously collaborated on, over the span of time. A one-off question won't fit the bill. 

Care coordination and healthcare collaboration aren't a panacea. But I do believe that when it comes to Long Term Care, the impact of collaboration and coordination can be dramatic. 

 

If you're involved in Long Term Care, get our ebook on using telemedicine to improve care and make workflows more efficient:

 

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Tags: medical collaboration, long term care, healthcare collaboration, hippa secure healthcare collaboration

Medical Collaboration a Crucial Way to Prevent Malpractice Suits Involving Kids

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Apr 03, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

alexander-dummer-261098-unsplashBy the end of their career, nearly half of all doctors will be sued.

Any suit is gut-wrenching for a doctor. It means that not only was there an undesired patient outcome, but the relationship with the patient has broken down to such an extent, that a lawsuit has become the chosen path forward.

That said, medical malpractice lawsuits involving children are especially disturbing and concerning. No doctor wants a child to have less than perfect care — and the litigation process itself can be deeply painful for all involved. So I was really interested to notice a recent study that seems to point to a commonsense way of decreasing your risk of being involved in a malpractice suit involving a child.


recent study, by The Doctors Company, looked at 1,215 malpractice claims filed on behalf of pediatric patients, from 2008 through 2017. These claims spanned 52 specialities and subspecialties.

What’s fascinating isn’t so much the claims themselves, but rather the root causes, allegations, and factors of the malpractice suits. Many of the most common factors in the lawsuits actually boil down to poor communication and poor medical collaboration among providers.

3 crucial highlights of the medical malpractice study that boil down to bad medical collaboration:

  • Missed, failed, or wrong diagnoses were the main reason for lawsuits.
  • Poor communication between the physician and the patient or family was a factor in up to 22% of claims, depending on the age of the child.
  • System and collaboration failures, such as not notifying treating physicians of critical test results, was also a primary cause of patient injuries. 

 

No doctor wants to put their patients at risk. And no doctor wants to be sued. But the sad truth is that many doctors think they're "too busy" for medical collaboration -- even though in all three of the determinants of medical malpractice above, medical collaboration could have been preventative. 

It's easy to say "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" for our patients. But the ounce of prevention created by medical collaboration is worth far more than trying to "cure" a bad outcome or lawsuit once it has already occurred. 

 

Learn more about how easy and fast medical collaboration can be:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration

Vaccines and Autism Fears Demonstrate Demands on Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

hyttalo-souza-1074680-unsplashFor many decades, we’ve thought about vaccines as a battle of science catching up with disease.

Conquering polio or measles was about finding the vaccine that would protect human bodies from those diseases, and then distributing those vaccines broadly enough to create immunity across the population.

However, there have been recent outbreaks of diseases that call into question this understanding. In places like the US and Europe, where the vaccines are established and the distribution is strong, we’ve seen a recent backsliding, with outbreaks of diseases like measles affecting communities. For instance, Washington State has had 71 cases of measles, just in the last few months.

So what are we to learn, as healthcare providers and leaders? And is there any way to win?

These outbreaks are of such concern, in fact, that there was a congressional hearing recently to explore the causes and potential fixes for these outbreaks.

Saad Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, from the Emory Vaccine Center, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that to battle new outbreaks, funding is needed not just for vaccines and research — but also for communication with the public about vaccines.

The biggest chink in the armor of our protection against these diseases is actually misinformation about vaccines, not limitations of the vaccines themselves. We all know about the concerns that boiled up in recent years about the supposed link between vaccines and autism. As Fierce Healthcare summarizes, “A paper published in The Lancet more than 20 years ago was long ago retracted after the author admitted to falsifying the information, but the concerns among many parents have persisted.”

This context shows clearly that in this case, protection against disease is about more than just science and treatment -- it's about the emotions, fears, and ideals of human beings. Whatever the science shows, if a mom believes the vaccine will cause autism, her child won't receive it. John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, who is Washington's secretary of health said, “We need to be looking at how it is we get to the hearts and minds of people around vaccines and to not put science on the shelf."

 

 

Healthcare can't be distilled to a procedure, a recommendation, a scientific finding, or a single intervention. It's a messy, complex art that involves the hearts, minds, bodies, and social context. Which is exactly why healthcare collaboration can't just be secure text messages between two providers. It needs to allow the complex, long-term interactions of a whole medical team, across the continuum of care, and over time.

Hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine is a technology that supports this very human way of caring. And when the human context is respected -- it means that the science can succeed.

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration

Dramatic Videoconferencing Screw-Up Brings Up Telemedicine Questions

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 @ 06:00 AM

glenn-carstens-peters-210782-unsplashWe've all been blindsided by technology taking the place of a human, when and where it shouldn't. 

It's the labyrinthine customer service switchboard when we just want to ask a simple question of a real person. It's the app that sends us in circles when we really just want to pay a bill. 

But a recent technology screw-up touched a serious nerve for one family -- and even called into question whether and how telemedicine should be used. 

Mr. Ernest Quintana was in the hospital for the third time in 15 days, as the New York Times recently recounted. His lung cancer was beginning to get the best of him and he was struggling. His family remained hopeful, though, and they were all with him throughout the hospital stay. 

One afternoon, though, Mr. Quintana was surprised to find a machine with a video screen on it being wheeled into his room. With his granddaughter by his bedside, Mr. Quintana listened as a doctor in an undisclosed location, and whom he had never met, began to discuss his care. His surprise turned to sadness and dismay when the doctor shared that Mr. Quintana was likely not going to survive this hospital stay and prepared him for end-of-life care.

A prognosis of death is never easy news for a person or a family. But hearing the news from a doctor you have a relationship with, who brings compassion, presence, and leadership, can decrease the suffering and ease the way forward. In Mr. Quintana's case, the terrible news and challenging decisions were worsened by the impersonal and jarring way that they were broached. No one wants to have a conversation about death with a stranger on a video screen. 

So is this a condemnation of telemedicine? Of technology?

I don't think so. I believe that this sad turn of events simply points to positive and negative uses of telemedicine and positive and negative uses of technology. 

So many people default to videoconferencing as the go-to (or even default) form for telemedicine to take. We believe videoconferencing has severe limitations because it requires expensive hardware and circuitous scheduling coordination. Those are some of the reasons that we believe hybrid Store-and-Forward telemedicine is significantly more powerful of a tool.

But this story brings into focus an even more important and powerful reason that we believe telemedicine should be about team-based collaboration -- not videoconferencing between a doctor and a patient. When telemedicine is used for healthcare providers to collaborate among each other, the patient can interact primarily or exclusively with the providers that they have a relationship with -- and the "other opinions" on the team can be shared among the medical team. That way, the providers can be leaders, healers, and human beings FIRST -- but use telemedicine to consult with other people on the team as necessary, and without disruption to the care for that patient.

For instance, in Mr. Quintana's case, perhaps an outside opinion was necessary regarding his end-of-life care. But rather than that opinion being piped in through a video screen, we believe it would have been far better for his provider, obviously, to consult with the outside doctor -- and then have a conversation with Mr. Quintana in person, within the context of their existing relationship. 

Don't risk this kind of technology screw-up. Prioritize human relationships and let technology -- and telemedicine -- serve them. 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

 

 

Tags: medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration

Believe It or Not, There is a Human Behind Every Part of the Healthcare System

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 @ 06:00 AM

rawpixel-600792-unsplashMy daughter has a particular pet peeve. She’s noticed that in so many movies, when there is a doctor in the story line, he or she (usually he) tends to be arrogant, insensitive, and uncaring — in so many ways, inhuman.

As doctors ourselves, we tend to see our colleagues — whether doctors, nurses, or aides — as very much human because we know them and interact with them every day. But it’s easy to see insurance carriers or drug companies or other parts of the healthcare system as faceless monsters that make our patients’ lives difficult.

Which is why I was really interested to read a series of articles that turned all of that on its head, and definitely warmed my heart.

A couple of weeks ago, Gina Kolata wrote an article in the New York Times about the new class of drugs, PCSK9 inhibitors, that slash cholesterol levels for patients that aren’t seeing results on statins, or with diet or exercise, but have serious risk of early heart attack or stroke.

She told the story of the hyper-expensive drugs, the $14,000 price tag that the drug manufacturers have set, and the insurance carriers that create a byzantine maze for any patients trying to access the drug.

It’s a well-known story — evil drug companies and evil insurers make it impossible for patients to access the care they need. When I read it, I didn’t think much of it.

Then, about a week later, another story came out.  In this one, the New York times reporter tells a story that pretty much upends all of my assumptions about the players in the story.

The evening her story was published, the founders of Regeneron — the manufacturer of the PCSK9 inhibitors — emailed her.  Dr. George D. Yancopoulos and Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer wrote:

“If you can, please put Mackenzie and Rodney in touch with us, and we will try and help them get covered, or we can arrange to give them the drug for free… While we can’t give everyone free drugs, we can help Mackenzie and Rodney, especially as they had the courage to step forward and share their experiences.”

He then gave his personal phone number and asked the journalist to give it to the patients in the story, “explaining that he can be slow answering emails.” 

In her story detailing her conversations with Dr. Yancopoulos, Kolata told the story of Regeneron. It was founded by the two doctors in 1988. 20 years after that, Regeneron got its first drug approved. 5 years after that, they made a profit. 25 years of a business isn’t exactly a “get rich quick” scheme. The total cost to develop the drug was $1.6 billion and last year they made just $195 million (a tiny fraction of the total investment.) In reading the article, it's clear that Dr. Yancopoulos has battled for decades to create a drug that he truly believes will save lives -- and that his heart is very much invested in making sure people have access to it.

Certainly, it's great that these two patients got access to the drug -- although that doesn't change the challenges that most patients will encounter in obtaining it. That said, it's a fascinating article and shows that even the most "inhuman" elements of the healthcare system -- for instance, drug manufacturers -- may have real people behind them who are doing their best to chart a course forward in a challenging system. 

The truth is that none of us are as smart as all of us, working together, are. (We say that a lot.) And for us all to work together, we must continue to see everyone in the healthcare system as human. 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: medical collaboration, healthcare collaboration

Why Overall Well-Being is as Important as Medical Intervention for Cost Savings

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Oct 02, 2018 @ 06:00 AM

rawpixel-678092-unsplashHealthcare is such a potent combination of art, science, social work, and hard economics. And where these varying approaches touch each other, there can be friction.

So many healthcare providers view what they do as a combination of art, science, and social work — with hard economics never (or rarely) entering their mind.

But many times, healthcare economists come from a perspective that assumes something very different about how healthcare functions and how providers make decisions. Many times, healthcare economists use as a fundamental premise the idea that: providers are self-interested and will bill for as many services as they can; and it’s crucial to focus on hard outcomes of services, not on overall well-being of patients. Their perspective tends to be that hard economics reign and that these other approaches are dreamy intangibles.

A new study in JAMA challenges all of that.

JAMA published a study described as a “US national, population-based cross-sectional study [examining] the association between county well-being and Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) spending.”

In other words, researchers looked at whether Medicare spending was lower when people’s overall (non-medical) well-being was better. The results?  Medicare spent almost $1,000 less per patient for those in the 20% of well-being scores, compared to the bottom. And this is after adjusting for independent factors like income, urbanity, educational level, etc.

As the JAMA study explained, “Well-being is a positive state of being beyond the absence of disease, measured by not only physical health but also other dimensions, such as emotional, social, and economic health. Well-being may be modifiable by a broad range of interventions across different sectors.”  It’s all the stuff that we tend to see as “outside the scope” of a given medical intervention.

We think this is an incredibly important insight and study highlighting something not commonly spotlighted. Certainly, new models have gone up one level to reward fee-for-performance rather than fee-for-service. But the truth is that this measure of overall well-being is up several levels beyond that. And to capture the economic value of our patient's overall health and happiness is important. 

The whole goal of what we do as doctors is to support our patient’s well-being. But if you really needed another reason to pursue that measure, this is evidence that a broader view, a more holistic approach, is cost-effective too.

One of the challenges that we get into with iClickCare utilization is that it might be more efficient to just allow secure text-messaging, rather than having a fulsome, team-based, archivable healthcare collaboration system. The very reason we do what we do is because we believe that this kind of more holistic, team-based approach may not be the fastest way to get a simple, discrete answer — but it is the most efficient, effective, and cost-conscious way of approaching the whole patient. The "whole patient" includes all aspects of their medical condition as well as the other factors in their life that interrelate with that condition. 

The components of well-being in the study that decreased cost-per-patient so dramatically were largely non-medical. That means that any collaboration system that doesn’t allow non-medical caregivers and providers (social workers, teachers, caregivers, etc) to collaborate is misguided and ultimately wasteful in terms of ROI. 

We're glad that this kind of study is being done. And we continue to applaud the efforts of all of those healthcare providers who take the holistic view of their patient's well-being -- rather than simply addressing the malady in front of them. 

 

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Tags: medical collaboration, care coordination, healthcare collaboration

Surprising Study Shows Doctor’s Race Crucial in Health Outcomes

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 @ 07:00 AM

rawpixel-744343-unsplash

Black men have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in the United States. Chronic disease — like diabetes and hypertension — play a big role. But the path to reducing rates of those maladies can seem unclear.

A new study by researchers in California showed a shocking finding in one parameter that could dramatically influence outcomes — the race of the doctor. 

The study itself was pretty simple and looked at the likelihood of patients to accept preventative measures, comparing the likelihood with a white doctor and with a black doctor. The study participants were 702 black men in Oakland, California, who came to a clinic for a free health screening. They were randomly assigned to a black male doctor or one who was white or Asian.

The results were pretty stark (as elucidated by The New York Times):

— 63 percent of the black men assigned to a black doctor agreed to a diabetes screening. Just 43 percent of those assigned to a doctor who was white or Asian consented to be screened.
— Some 62 percent of black men with a black doctor agreed to cholesterol tests, compared to 36 percent assigned to a doctor who was not black.

These rates might not sound world-changing, but the consequences of them are. If black patients were to agree to preventive care at these rates in the real world, researchers estimate that the gap in cardiovascular mortality between black men and the rest of the population could be reduced by 20 percent.

So was it the race of the provider itself that made the difference? Or was it something that black doctors were doing differently, or more effectively, than the white doctors?

There’s no hard evidence to answer that question, but one telling component of the findings are the comments written by both patients and doctors in the study. Black patients had equally positive comments of doctors, regardless of their race. But of black doctors, their comments skewed more emotional and effusive. Similarly, the notes on  the white doctors tended to be shorter and dryer. Black doctors’ notes were more detailed and more holistic, including comments on elements of the patient’s experience and overall life.

One of the black doctors in the study really affirmed that ultimately, it’s not about race — it’s about good care. “It’s something they don’t teach you in medical school — taking that extra step because you appreciate there have been barriers in the past,” Dr. ChaRandle Jordan said, saying that white doctors can reach out just as well and that a lot depends on how familiar a doctor is with black patients.

From our perspective, there are several key implications of this study for our work with medical collaboration and care coordination:

— A team approach is important. Sometimes the background of the provider can make a difference, and where that's true, having a diverse team working together closely, is a key asset. 

— Good care is about more than the facts. Simply offering the appropriate preventative screening isn't enough. In this study, it appears that the black doctors' efforts to build rapport and even to push back on patients' initial reticence were a big part of their good outcomes. Having the perspective and tools to work with a more holistic sense of the patient is key.

Obviously, we believe that great care can happen among providers and patients of any race. But looking at race and differences in engagement and interaction shouldn't be taboo. We often say that "no one of us is a smart as all of us."  And this is one more example of how our colleagues down the hall may have a lot to teach us — if we are open to learning. 

For stories of medical collaboration, download our Quick Guide: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: medical collaboration, good medicine, care coordination

Is Medicine Today Shift Work, Team Work, or Solo Work?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 @ 06:00 AM

john-price-380340-unsplashIt’s increasingly rare in everyday life to have someone take responsibility for caring for you or serving you.

If you sign up for a new account at a bank, the smiling salesman doesn’t end up being the person you interact with when you stop in to make a deposit. Most of us no longer have personal relationships with our grocers or butchers or farmers.

And the field where this change seems the most dramatic is medicine. As we’ve all experienced, the last few decades have shown a shift in medicine from everyone having a family doctor to… almost the opposite of that. Hour caps for residents, the rise of hospitalists, an emphasis on advanced practice nurses, and a change from medicine-as-a-calling to medicine-as-a-career-path have all contributed to a more fragmented, less personal relationship between patient and doctor.

So do these changes mean that medicine is now shift work?  And are the outcomes of these changes negative across the board?

As a surgeon, I always believed that the person who does the surgery is the person who checks on the patient after surgery. In my life, that sometimes meant my kids waiting in the hallway while I checked on a patient right on the way to a restaurant for Saturday night spaghetti. The generation before me might have done house calls and likely knew whole families, over generations.

A recent New York Times article looks at the shifts that have occurred recently.  These shifts have pushed medicine dramatically away from each person “having their doctor” to care being provided in a way that’s agnostic of who is giving the care and is more about who is responsible during any given hour, or for any given problem. The interaction described by the doctor and author of the article is emblematic of precisely these changes:

“Will you be my regular doctor?” a new patient seeing me in my primary care clinic asked.

“Sort of,” I honestly answered.

She looked back at me quizzically.

“Technically speaking I will be your doctor,” I explained. “But you may have trouble scheduling an appointment with me and may have to see another doctor here at our group clinic at times. And if you need to get admitted to this hospital, other doctors who work there will take care of you.”

 

Although I think that this change is positive in many ways -- and ultimately necessary -- I also worry about some of the "side effects" of the shift to shift work.

Specifically, I think that there are a few specific negative consequences of the change from medicine being a calling, with ultimate personal responsibility, to medicine being a career path, made up of people primarily doing a kind of shift work:

  • Lower satisfaction for healthcare providers. If you're handing off patients to a colleague once you complete your shift or role in care, you don't see the "welcome home party", hear about the happy return to a hobby, or see the relief in a daughter's eyes. Frequent handoffs in medicine often make it less satisfying to doctors because you don’t see the real life outcomes of your patients.
  • Less holistic care. The more we know about our patients' lives, families, circumstances, goals, and passions, the more we can make their care smart and holistic. The more fragmented care becomes, the less holistic it becomes -- the third provider in the handoff chain may have no idea about a key personal circumstance that could affect care or compliance.
  • More coordination mistakes. More handoffs mean more cracks for things to fall between. So often, signing out to a colleague is the crucial link in the chain to avoid problems -- but this step doesn't always or can't always happen.
  • Decreased trust in healthcare system. I've noticed that one reason patients trust medicine, and doctors specifically, less than they used to is that there isn't any one person to trust. 

So is good care possible within this fragmented system? I think it is -- but it involves a key shift in perspective. And I believe that the shift in perspective is this: 

We must evolve from shift work to team work. 

We can't go back to the old model of medicine as solo work. It looks like, for most of the population, we're not going back to house calls or family doctors. But even within the current medical framework, we can change from a handoff mentality, to a team mentality – we can evolve from shift work to team work. On a team, each of us is not always carrying the ball or responsible for the patient. But we're all always responsible for the outcome as a whole. That means that as medicine has changed, healthcare collaboration and care coordination has become not a "nice to have" but an absolute "must have" in order to provide adequate care to our patients. Ultimately, team work is about taking responsibility for the outcome of every single person we care for, even if we collaborate with colleagues on portions of that care.

It's not about handoffs, it's about collaboration. 

 

To try iClickCare for collaboration today, get it free here: 

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Tags: medical collaboration, care coordination, healthcare collaboration

Migrant Children Highlight a Care Coordination Problem We All Have

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 @ 07:00 AM

chinh-le-duc-132753-unsplashOne truth that we don't acknowledge often enough is that the healthcare system often depends on caregivers to coordinate care. True, we have other members of the care team who do care coordination also, and we have tools that help us, but in many situations, it is the patient's caregiver that is doing the bulk of the caregiving. 

Healthcare depends on caregivers remembering care history, advocating for providers to collaborate, and reminding providers of key conditions when that information gets lost in the shuffle. This becomes exponentially more true, the more chronic, complex, or multidisciplinary a patient’s situation is.

The truth, of course, is that this isn’t always possible or feasible. Some patients don’t have an advocate or caregiver that is able to play this coordinating role. We do have team members like social workers and patient advocates, but sometimes the coordination of the care itself falls between the cracks.

I realized recently that there is an extreme case in which patients don't have a solid medical history and don't have a dependable caregiver able to coordinate care on their behalf. The situation is the medical care provided to the migrant children separated at the US border. It's interesting because it highlights the dangers inherent in the medical system for someone who might not have the same social supports and networks as many patients do.

A recent article in the New York Times looked at the situation in New York City, in which providers at public hospitals are seeing children who were detained at the border and separated from their parents. Brought in by foster parents, “The children who come in with medical issues such as asthma are without adult family members who can provide medical history.”  Further, therapists are endeavoring to provide emotional care for the children, along with the fact that they’re in the midst of an ongoing traumatic experience.

It's an obviously challenging situation and both foster families and healthcare providers are scrambling to help. But the broad strokes of the care don't different significantly from anyone without family to help, or caregivers to coordinate. These situations expose the cracks and weaknesses that affect all patients.

The truth is that to truly provide excellent care to all patients, we as healthcare providers need to be able to do care coordination and healthcare collaboration without the support of caregivers and family. We must identify and develop the tools we need to make this possible -- to allow us to communicate across the medical team, access key medical history, and consult with other providers efficiently and appropriately. The stakes are simply too high not to. 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: medical collaboration, care coordination, healthcare collaboration

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