I spoke with a friend this week who felt like a stranger in a strange land. She’s recently moved to a community with almost no experience with Muslims, people from West Africa, or with those with chronic pain from a genetic disease. Every encounter presents challenges drawing on her charisma, empathy, dignity and ability to adapt and educate – sometimes during the crisis of severe pain. During my friend’s medical encounters she does not face a health literacy dilemma. She is usually more expert about her culture and her health challenges than the medical professionals she meets. She faces a life literacy dilemma. In my life as a patient and career as a clinician, I face an infinite variety of people, cultures, and situations different from my own or my comfort. I am often at a loss at how to engage this range of clinicians (as a patient) and people (as a clinician). How can we proactively prepare for so much unknown and unfamiliar? Read More
I’m scared but not shocked. The level of disappointment so many people feel about their lives profoundly saddens me. I should have more. I would have more if it weren’t for others – all sorts of others. Feelings of injustice can power so much. I don’t pretend to understand all the righteousness, anger, and meanness that erupt when disappointment builds. But it feels as familiar as the human condition throughout the planet and over the ages. It’s like earthquakes from fracking. I’m thankful that my mother, a Holocaust survivor, is no longer alive. She would be apoplectic and inconsolable. What’s going to happen now? How should I act? As when grieving, I will mindfully minimize controllable stress – exercise, rest, listen to and play more music, spend more time with friends and family. I will continue to give thanks for all I have in my first world life. I will continue to pursue my passion for maximizing the experience of people at the center of care. I pray for the physical and spiritual strength to speak up, stand up, and act when the moments seems right. I’ll need strength to take the high road in this low road time. More than anything I’ll pray for unexpected open hearts. The community needs it. Our grandchildren need it. The unborn need it. Onward.
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.
I’m a technology nerd and early adopter while also a profound technology skeptic. My heart sings when communities of people solve problems that matter to them and theirs and then look for technology partners to automate and share their solutions. By community, I mean partnerships of people at the center of care (people, care partners, clinicians) and neighborhoods, counties and states.
Recently, I spent a few days with big data, technology, entrepreneurs, and healthcare under the big top of Health 2.0 in Palo Alto. CA – a relatively low-key festival of mostly entrepreneurs trying to sell big data and apps with the edge of worry about engaging patients in their data and products. I felt at home with my advocacy and community browsing new ideas and new uses for technology 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
Have I written about the Quadruple Aim of healthcare?
1. Improving the patient experience of care,
2. Improving the health of populations,
3. Reducing the per capita cost of health care, and
4. Improving the work life of clinicians and staff.
I live to compete in this quadrathlon. While my focus is the first and fourth – experience of patients and work life of clinicians and staff – the finish line is the second – improving the health of populations. I fear that wild success in experience, cost, and work life might not result in improving the health of populations. Improving the health and well-being of neighborhoods, counties, teens, professional athletes, diabetics, etc. may not be the sum of improving the health of each individual in those populations.
In 2007, I worked for St. Peter’s Recovery Center in Guilderland, NY. My boss, Bob Doherty, had the vision, the foresight, and the stones to engage a whole community to improve the care of persons most disabled by substance abuse. He convened the homeless shelters, religious communities, law enforcement, social services, ambulance companies, emergency rooms, and other community services to take on this intractable puzzle together. Brilliant! Read More
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.
I felt so empowered by the best boss ever, Jim Bulger, Executive Director of a managed care company. After I had been Director of Quality Management for 3 months, I told Jim that I didn’t think we were moving along at the speed he wanted us to go. “What do you think we should do?” Jim asked. “Frankly, I think we need to start with you.” OMG, what had I said? Have I no filters?!! To my joy and consternation, Jim responded, “Ok, teach me. Every morning 7am, 30 minutes, your agenda.” I had to get my act together fast. Several years later I asking Jim why he had done that. “I would have been an idiot not to. I hired you, didn’t I?” This was a gift to me. A gift of trust, a gift of leadership. I’ve learned over the years to value this gift of leadership.
Leadership is a foundation stone of maximizing the experience of people at the center of care. It’s not sufficient, but it’s necessary. Many opportunities exist to steer the boat, set the tone, build trust, value contributions, empower, take care of each other – opportunities for leadership. You can lead an organization. You can lead a team. Leader can be in your title or not. You can lead for a moment or a career. There is no ultimate leader. It’s a relative position – a relationship position.
My mom led her health team during end-of-life. She set the tone, admitted and expelled team members. She set the culture. Once you were admitted to her team she listened to and empowered. It worked well. It’s an art as a leader to pull back and let others lead. She chose to lead. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More