Community Rocks

I’m preparing to attend a California Compassionate Care Coalition palliative care conference #cccc17 in a week. I’m reminded of the power of community in advancing good health practices. I have two stories. The first is about the ongoing public health collaboration since 1993 in LaCrosse, WI to meet and sustain very high rates of advanced care planning and following documented preferences through end of life.  A group of people organized a region-wide initiative to elicit, understand, document, and honor a patient’s preferences about future medical care. As a result end of life preferences are a regular part of community conversation, documents became easier to understand and use, some electronic medical records facilitated access to choices, and following the choices became standard practice. In 2010 90% has a plan, 99% were available in the medical record, and 99.5% of the time treatment was consistent with preferences. (See the Journal of American Geriatrics Society).  Amazing! Continue reading “Community Rocks”

Tales of Woe

From my memorable quotes pile:

Harried caregiver: What are we supposed to do next? Instructions from doctors, just getting through the day, plus dealing with bureaucracy? My word, I’m so overwhelmed. Everybody thinks their thing is the most important. Can’t this be easier for my wife and me?

Recently diagnosed patient:  I feel like crap. I want to follow instructions, I do. I thought I understood everything at the office.  Now I’m home, how do I get my questions answered? Continue reading “Tales of Woe”

Person-Centered #CarePlanning – What Data?

More about person-centered #CarePlanning. (If you missed my first post go here)

Our health teams struggle to communicate at transitions (between team members, when adding a new team member, between people, offices, and settings) – it’s a perfect tower of Babel.

In its simplest form communication is who, what and how.  Who needs to communicate? What do they need to communicate? How will they communicate?

#CarePlanning focuses on the whatWhat are the goals of the person on the health journey? Who’s going to do stuff to get there? When? How will these goals and activities be tracked and shared across time and settings?

Let’s engage to better understand #CarePlanning from the point-of-view of the person (mostly as patient, sometimes not; usually including family and/or caregiver), rather than from the point-of-view of the doctor, the hospital, or the insurer. What does the person want to accomplish, who on their team (including the person) is going to do what? by when?  Let’s also narrow our focus to #CarePlanning that can be to communicated during transitions between settings rather than within settings (For example,  between home and clinician office, between hospital and rehab center, between home and work or school. Not within the home, hospital, clinic, or agency). Next, let’s look at #CarePlanning during illness rather than wellness or prevention. Edward Suchman (1965) devised an approach for studying illness behavior with five key stages of illness experience: (1) symptom experience; (2) assumption of the sick role; (3) medical care/healthcare contact; (4) dependent patient role; and (5) recovery and rehabilitation. (my italics added).  Finally, let’s be sure to include the social determinants of health or as us non-academics call it, life. Continue reading “Person-Centered #CarePlanning – What Data?”

Standard Health Record

win_20161030_08_52_02_proI’m on vacation this week. A Blues Cruise. Heard two bands with bari saxes already – Los Lobos and Selwin Birchwood. Today, I’ll try to join the Pro-Amateur JAM.

So just a quick post:
Last week I was invited to the @MITRE Corporation by @HarrySleeper and met teams working on:

  • Standard Health Record, an open source single health record, if it happens to the person, it’s in the SHR. Secure, informed-consent access to our health data across multiple platforms with advanced security and privacy protocols. Accessibility for us and authorized family , care partners, and healthcare providers to our health-record 24/7, anywhere in the world. Empower people with an enduring voice by allowing us to add, verify, and easily share our data with trusted third parties
  • Intervention Engine, assigns risk rating and prioritizes patients for clinician team members in clinics and offices to huddle and review patient status and proposed interventions
  • SyntheticMass, a test database of Massachusetts residents health records simulate population health. Expecting to have all 7 million loaded in 2021
  • Bonnie, a tool for pretesting clinical quality measures
  • Social Determinants of Health, a great graphic for a holistic picture of health

Thanks to @JuhanSonin for the intro. Amazing work going on. Need to spread the word. Till next week.

Health Planning Over a Lifetime

appalachian-trail-chrisbianchinj-by-michelepapaleoThree weeks ago I wrote about navigating our experiment of one. This navigation is health planning over a lifetime. Health Planning over a Lifetime includes having destinations or goals and deciding what needs to happen to get there. Who’s going to do what, by when? How will we  recognize when we’ve arrived. It helps to anticipate risks and barriers (those unexpected forks in the road), and have a plan to prevent or manage those unexpected forks. We’ll want to track and share progress. We need a table to sit down and process what we’ve learned, so we can change course when necessary. The health and wellness industry hasn’t provided us with the setting, the skills, or the technology for this vital health planning over lifetimes. It’s nowhere. Continue reading “Health Planning Over a Lifetime”

What Happens Next? Planning Care

People: What’s wrong with me? Should I tell the doctor? What does she want me to do?  Can I afford it? Does it (will it) hurt? Can I (will I) still take care of my family (go to work, go out, have fun)? What happens next? How’m I doing now? Did it work? Did it help? What should I worry about? What should I do if it happens (again)?

Clinician: What’s on his mind? What’s wrong with him? What should I do next?  Did it work? What do the tests tell me? What should he do next? Did he do it? Will he let me know? What is anyone else doing about it?

Questions, questions, questions. So many bumps in the road and detours  in the health journey. Few maps, spotty GPS at best.

Essentially, the medical part of the health journey is 1. Finding out what’s going on (diagnose). 2. Plan care (What needs to happen, by whom, when? What do we expect to happen (outcome)? What could go wrong, how can we prevent it, and how will we deal with it if it happens?. 3. See if the plan worked. 4. If it didn’t, adjust, try something else.

We are each an experiment of one.

These days I’m fascinated by the planning care part. Neither the patient nor the clinician can plan care alone. They need each other and much support – family members, other professionals, technology, and most of all – communication.

Eventually, everyone plans care – usually over and over. Our health system doesn’t seem geared toward planning care. Ten minute infrequent visits between patient and clinician. Routines and technology that can’t handle the dynamic, constantly changing information flow of planning care. The information certainly isn’t easily available to everyone on the team when they need it. Few, if any, rules (standards) exist for patients putting information in.

People: When you speak with a clinician, agree upon a plan of care. Set up a way to ask questions as they come up and report on status, be it portal, email, phone, or keeping a journal.

Clinicians: Use the words plan of care. Write the plan down. Let your patients know how to communicate status and ask questions as they come up before the next visit.

Everyone: Expect your electronic health records to be able to record and track care planning.

Harmonic Convergence

Consider the fabric of best health. The Quadruple Aim (Best patient and clinician experience, best population health, reduced cost) is that fabric. The weave of that fabric is information about our personal and collective health and health journeys. The warp is learning and continual improvement.


Quadruple Aim: Improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, reducing the per capita cost of health care, and improving the work life of clinicians and staff.


Health information includes the data in our health records (paper or electronic),  patient generated health data (PGHD) (vital signs, activity, experiences, symptoms, history, etc.), census and community data, and perceptions collected from surveys, focus groups, and chatter.  Learning can be formal and structured as in research and analysis, clinician consultation and advice, education and training, and tests of change as in Plan, Do, Study, Act  (PDSA) or informal as in social and traditional media, child rearing, personal experiments (try something, see how it works, try something else), family, neighborhood, and water-cooler conversations. Continue reading “Harmonic Convergence”

AACH: Communication and Relationships

I attended the American Academy of Communication in Healthcare Conference in New Haven. The AACH is the professional home for all committed to improving communication and relationships in healthcare. About 200 people attended from US, Canada, Israel, Brazil, Belgium, Australia. Although most attendees were physicians, I met nurses, therapists, coaches, office managers, patients, sociologists, medical students, and researchers. A couple of very low-key sponsors but no vendors present. A pleasant relief. The conference was designed to maximize interaction, learn from each other, and build skills within work groups and special interest groups. Met several venerable experts. Very open and quite humble: We have a lot to learn. Especially about patient centeredness. Most exciting for me was a presentation by Sharon Schindler Rising, a nurse midwife, talking about Centering Groups – facilitated groups of 6-10 young moms/couples preparing for the impending birth of a child. A wonderful example of people-centered design with participants directing much of the flow of the monthly small groups. Professionals and services came to them. Groups often kept meeting on their own after the children reach one year old, sometimes for 8-10 years. New groups have been starting for decades. Evidence over that time showed significant increase in proportion of pregnancies going to full term and decrease in the proportion of low birth weight babies. One sad piece of the presentation was the description of the barrier caused by the advent of the electronic health record. One participant-generated practice had been for moms and dads to enter their own health data into the paper record: instant empowerment!  Not so with electronic record. People could no longer enter their own data into the health record. Shadow records had to be created. Lord, I was crushed when I heard this. I participated in several subsequent discussions about the infrastructure and skill set that would be needed to spread the Centering Group model to other settings. Instant learning!! Continue reading “AACH: Communication and Relationships”

Transitions – What you don’t know can hurt you

Still exploring communication across transitions.  This week speaking with clinicians. First, with case managers in an acute, short-term rehabilitation center serving people with recent strokes, heart conditions, or surgeries needing less than a month of intensive therapy. The transition points between nurses shift to shift, between physicians and between case managers, between patients, families, and primary care clinicians at discharge worked the best because they’re well documented and standardized. Tools are in place for the sharing of information. Either the hand-offs between clinicians are routine or patient education notebooks are completed the same for every patient: not the same contents but the same workflow. Since it’s not acute care (short stays)  there  is more for hand-offs and to develop relationships with the patient and their caring network and time for patients and families to absorb the instructions. A considerable volume of paper is generated, resulting in lots to read and lots to fax (everything by fax!). Maybe too much to read.  Information coming in with patients was less complete than information going out with patients. Communication was better in general and more complete if a person received all their care within the same health system.  The biggest risk? Not receiving information about critical medications, such as blood thinners, steroids, and antidepressants.

Next, a community Primary Care clinic. Again, communication best when a person is discharged from a hospital within the same health system as their clinic. Then a nurse knows when someone is going to be discharged or has been discharged.  The nurse calls the patient at home and can let the doctor know that the patient has their prescriptions filled, knows what to do, or if anything needs attention. For the patient discharged from a hospital outside the health system, the clinic often doesn’t know the patient was even in the hospital and has to scramble to gather information so they can support the person. The transition from home to office works least well.  Someone calls the office needing an appointment or has a question or needs a prescription filled. The quality of screening, triage, and information gathering varies widely  The more the patient or caregiver takes charge, the better the communication with the call center the better the clinic visit goes. Transition communication with specialists outside the system seemed quite a challenge without a common EHR for communication. Continue reading “Transitions – What you don’t know can hurt you”

Scared?

My friend, Phyllis, in Cleveland suggested I might be asking the wrong question: “What works for me when I’m scared and what doesn’t?” You may recall that readers who have been patients and caregivers have been adamant that this is a key piece of information that should be in the electronic health record, especially needed in the ER. In 5+ years of advocacy I’ve been unable to generate interest from IT wonks. Anyway, I was whining about my ineffectiveness to Phyllis.

So let’s break it down a bit more. I’ve never met anyone in an unexpected health situation who wasn’t scared. Scared looks like: startled, numb, stomach ache, sweating, heart racing, catastrophizing , panicked……

It’s good to know in advance what helps settles me down. Deep breaths, meditation, hold my hand, a good laugh, quiet, a walk, listening to John Lennon, my wife and family, more information, respect from those around me plus listening to me, Ativan. My mom needed a hand to hold, control, opera. My friend needs someone from his immediate family and information, reduced stimulus, quiet, to be kept warm, headphones with classical musical. We all can use something. The unexpected health care situation can vary. My chronic condition, MS, could flare up – known yet unexpected.  You could break your leg – an accident plus pain. You could have a heart attack or kidney stones – sudden, debilitating, with pain. You could be alone or with someone you trust – very different scenarios. Continue reading “Scared?”