ClickCare Café

What a Patient's Family Photos Have to do With Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 08:30 AM



Not so long ago, people with facial deformities were not treated as people. As babies, they were sometimes left to die. As adults, they were assumed to be inept, unintelligent, and even unfeeling.

Of course, we now understand that a facial deformity is a condition that a person has -- not a condition that defines a person.

But sometimes in the crush of technology that medicine strains under, I worry that we've somehow gone backwards. These days, we're often reduced to seeing patients in 6-minute windows, entering data in EMRs by ourselves in a windowless room, rarely finding time to chat with other doctors, and receiving weekly productivity reports. So often, these days, we're just processing conditions, not helping people with conditions.

To be quite honest, iClickCare is sometimes criticized as not being an efficient enough tool at processing conditions. Despite its ability to save institutions significant amounts of money and improve results, folks are often critical of how it fits into the assembly line that medicine can become.

My answer? It doesn't really fit into the assembly line. Telemedicine generally, healthcare collaboration generally, and iClickCare in particular, fit into an efficient, thoughtful, caring, low-cost model of telemedicine that is decidedly not an assembly line. It's a conversation. It's an exploration. It's caring for people with medical conditions, not processing conditions evermore impersonally. Besides, the assembly line is not showing itself to be efficient or effective.

That's why Dr. Mikkael Sekeres's article about how his patients' family photos impact him, really impacted me. Dr. Sekeres shared that in taking a moment to look at the family photos on the wall of a patient's hospital room, he says, "I get to appreciate my patients from the time before they were sick and I can also see what they are trying to return to."

This is not a bleeding heart sentiment. If you don't know who your patients are and what they are trying to return to, you cannot treat them effectively. You can treat them -- well, and efficiently. But you can't treat them with the knowledge of how an extra day in the hospital affects their job. You can't delay surgery by a day so the high school swimmer can still swim in the state competition. You can't involve a young child's teacher in the telemedicine conversation about her speech development.

Your tools must support you in treating people -- not processing conditions:

  • People are more than their treatment.
    Healthcare collaboration is crucial and it must be rich conversations among healthcare providers, involving pictures, words, and videos -- not a text form with a single question and answer.
  • People have homes and jobs and families that are key to their health.
    That's why healthcare providers need to coordinate and collaborate with each other, across distance and on their schedule, so that patients don't have to trek from appointment to appointment with little benefit.
  • People have multiple facets of care and many caregivers and healthcare providers.
    For good care to happen, it's not about the opinion of an expert. It is about people across the continuum of care collaborating on a single case.
  • People have pasts and futures.
    That's why healthcare providers need to be able to refer back to past cases with ease -- using them to inform what the patient is facing now.

Especially this time of year, we are so grateful for our loved ones and are conscious of the health we have -- never to be taken for granted. We're also grateful for the many healthcare providers we know are equally conscious of the "non-medical" aspects of care that we hope to receive if and when we need care ourselves.


We put together a free ebook on hybrid store-and-forward telemedicine. You can download it here:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

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

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