It’s hard to reach personal health goals or solve medical problems without a plan. Plans require decisions. Never-ending decisions (choices) in the health journey. Clinicians, researchers, and insurance companies study and use Clinical Decision Support (CDS) to help with the decision-making process. It’s a shortcut for using research (evidence) in the decision-making. Some talk about patient-centered decision support (see a definition at the bottom of this post). They’re trying to figure out how to help people to make decisions in two minutes of ten-minute visits. Yet, few patients or caregivers I’ve met ever talk about CDS. So how can people understand the value and limitations of CDS? Read More
One of my passions in life is Learning What Works for people on their health journey. As we travel, we make choices – endless choices. Should I do A rather than B? Eat the brownie or don’t eat the brownie? Take a walk or don’t? Go to the doctor or wait until I feel worse? Fill the prescription the doctor wrote or don’t? Have surgery or wait and see? Stay home with my dad with dementia or arrange for home care? Or we make no decision at all (a decision in itself). Sometimes people search for help in making these choices. Help from professionals on their care team, from their care partner, from Dr. Google, from their mates or social network.
Learning what works is an experiment.
A person tries something – it worked or it didn’t – for them. To know it worked means that the person has an idea of what they are trying to accomplish (See my post on personal health goals). And that they think there’s a relationship between what they tried and what they accomplished (or didn’t). I have a fever, took an aspirin, and the fever dropped. I have heartburn, stopped eating chocolate, and now less heartburn. My MS symptoms are getting worse. I reduce manageable stress. My symptoms subside. What’s important in all this is that I know what I want, I try something, and I feel better or accomplish what I wanted (or didn’t). Some people, like me, have a written care plan and keep track with lists and spreadsheets. (See my post on planning personal care) Most don’t. Read More
This week I connected a patient with expertise in billing with a patient at the tail end of chemo struggling with huge unexpected bills. I introduced a cancer survivor with web design skills to a patient advocate setting up a new blog.
I’m struck by the breadth and depth of professional skills I encounter as I explore e-patient communities. (e-patient: empowered, engaged, enabled, equipped). e-Patients have lived experience. I encountered the concept of lived experience first while working in the mental health world. According to the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia (MHCSA) a lived experience worker is “a person who is employed in a role that requires them to identify as being, or having been a mental health consumer or carer.” Read More
The pervasive drumbeat of Calls for Action in healthcare overwhelms me, excite me, bewilder me. I’m wired for action. I have to listen and consider or shut it out. I have no middle ground. There’s a limited amount of gas in my tank. I feel protective of my retirement dollars. And I still need to take out the garbage and do the laundry. Do I want to respond? Am I able to respond? What am I really responding to? How much is enough? Does it align with my mission? Will it be fun? Read More
Have you ever remodeled your kitchen? So many decisions: Cabinet style, drawers, finish, hardware, not to mention the floor and appliances. There’s you, your partner, a contractor, a cabinet person, a floor person, the appliance merchant. Decision after decision – should we or shouldn’t we? And nobody’s gonna die or get injured – hopefully. All while trying to keep living, cooking, dishes, lunches. My wife and I were so stressed. Kitchen decisions pale next to health decisions, especially medical decisions. It’s not like, “do I prefer this drawer pull to that drawer pull?” “Would I rather have wood or tile floors?” There is so much more uncertainty in health care.
Why me, why now? Who says? How sure are they? What if I do? What if I don’t? Will I still be able to ….? Who pays? What will they think? How do I get there? What aren’t they telling me? Are they listening to me when I say I can’t or I won’t? I just can’t think right now! Oh, this sure sucks! Read More
Decisions, decisions, decisions. We face endless numbers of decisions during our health journeys. From the mundane, should I fast to lose weight? To the tedious, what statin should I take? To the heartbreak, should we do everything possible? Yesterday, after playing music, someone told us that he fasted to lose 20 pounds. How many weight loss discussions have we had in an endless number of settings. I can remember one time discussing it with my Primary Care doctor – no decision, no choice of action – just an observation that my weight had been steadily increasing over the years. My cholesterol is high, and my Dad died young of a heart attack (not from high cholesterol). I’ve taken six different statins. My Primary Care doc thinks the evidence is strong for me to take statins. We regularly change brand based on effects on my liver enzymes, cost, and insurance coverage. A friend’s elder mother had major heart surgery. The cardiac surgeon reported success, she’s doing great – the blockage was successfully removed. She’s still in a coma, intubated. She’s never had end-of-life conversations, no advanced directives. Her husband will want to do everything possible. No decisions lead to a decision. Read More
When diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I did little research. Here I was, a card carrying member of the research industrial complex heavily involved with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). I just couldn’t bring myself to Google MS. I relied on my wife to do the research and inform me. I told my neurologist I wanted to get worse as slowly as possible and didn’t want to take anything that messed with my pathological optimism. Then I relied on him to make medical decisions for me. No clinical decision aids. Simultaneously, friends sent me books and links about diet, lifestyle, over-the-counter supplements to help me with my MS. Thanks, I guess. Not that receptive. Without looking up one study, I tried non-medical professionals – massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture. These I still use almost a decade later. I brought whatever I heard about or tried to my neurologist, and we discussed it. He told me that he knew about drugs and medical therapeutics, but that everything worked for someone. Some things he knew about and some he didn’t. He liked hearing what worked for me. He told me what he had heard from other patients.
When my mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer, she relied on me to do the research. Well, really, she asked me questions, so I had to do the research. In fact, she didn’t make any decisions based on the evidence I uncovered. “I’ve had a good life. No surgery, no chemo, no radiation. I want to stay home.” Read More
I was discharged after bypass surgery with 26 pages of instructions. I was just concerned about getting home.
My dad lives alone on the other coast. He takes 11 medications from 4 different providers. At least one gives him a blood thinner. What do I do if he bleeds?
I can get my acupuncturist and massage therapist to talk to each other, but not my doctor. They’re all helping me with my neuropathy pain.
My doctor tells me that if I get this surgery I’ll have a 10% chance of living longer and 1% chance of serious complications. What does that mean for me?
The doctor told my mom that she can’t drive anymore. How will she get her groceries, her meds, to her doctor appointments?
Who will feed my cat if I have to go to the hospital?
I live 4 miles up a dirt road. Will I be able to stay in my house?
It’s complicated to manage health and wellness. Planning and living care is daunting. The journey occurs inside and outside of the medical space. Sometimes we travel alone and sometimes with our care partners and health team. Always within our communities. The journey is our life – one foot in front of the other, with expected and unexpected, desired and undesired forks in the road. We can wing it or look for a map. We have evidence of what works – sort of and sometimes. The evidence is about specific routes for groups of people. You and I may be on an unusual route. You and I are not groups of people, we are one person in many groups. Once a person decides or needs to feel better, a roadmap helps. A roadmap plus stopping periodically to check if you’re still heading to your destination. Read More
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. Read More
Black Lives Matter! Disability Rights! Women’s Right to Choose! Gimme My DaM Data! Calls to action. In the early 60’s my parents were Fair Housing activists. They were the first whites in Illinois to adopt mixed race children and were the first whites in their all white neighborhood to sell their house to an African American couple. They successfully invited Martin Luther King to speak in their suburban high school. In the late 60’s I marched against the Vietnam War, sat in, and became a draft counselor. Now I advocate for people at the center of health care.
What motivates people to advocate for change? What actions do people take? For my immigrant parents, , the Civil Rights Movement opened their eyes to discrimination in their community. As holocaust survivors they knew discrimination. Some of my heroes in healthcare transformation, such as @CristinLind, @ePatientDave, @ReginaHolliday, Mary Anne Sterling, and @JackWhelan experience the craziness of healthcare. They take political, community, and personal action.