Alexis Snyder, a parent of a teenager with chronic complex health issues since birth, shares her journey. She speaks about accepting what is, helping her daughter prepare to manage the many transitions in medical care from infancy to adulthood, the challenges of a siloed medical system, and a fear of losing control of her daughter’s health as she let’s go of responsibility. Loving, determined, vulnerable. The third interview in a series on Young Adults with Complex Conditions Transitioning from Pediatric to Adults Medical Care. Read More
Welcome to the Health Hats podcast series about young adults transitioning from pediatric to adult medical care. In this series, I interview young adults with complex medical conditions, their parent or guardians, point-of-care clinicians caring for these young adults, and whoever else I find of interest in this fascinating, frustrating, heart-breaking, and inspiring world.
This second podcast of the series is with Sara Lorraine Snyder, a fine, eloquent, young woman who has lived her entire life with chronic medical issues. She’s learning to drive her own healthcare and manage the transition to adult medical care.
“If you were playing with the team for football or whatever and then they come you come in the next practice and half of your team is completely new people that you don’t even know and then you don’t know how to effectively work with that team so that in the end of the day you can win or like achieve, whatever you need to.” Sara Lorraine Snyder
Interview with Jill Woodworth, mother of 4, three with Tuberous Sclerosis, managing the transition from pediatric to adult medical care. Fascinating, frustrating, heart-breaking, and inspiring. Silos and boundaries, crossing the threshold, primary physician, autonomy, self-management. One of the scenarios with the most boundaries, cracks, and thresholds is where young adults with complex medical conditions transition from pediatric to adult care. “If there’s any communication, that has to go through me. Unfortunately, I have to network that system and that’s just really cumbersome.” “I can also help other people that have questions about how to transition. I’m certainly not an expert. But boy, it is something that I wish I always say do it the earlier the better. The earlier you can think about it the better.” “He’s learning. Like I taught him to get his own meds, you know, it’s kind of meeting each one of them where they are and what they can do. But it’s hard.” Read More
The Journal of Participatory Medicine recently published an article I authored, Communication at Transitions: One Audacious Bite at a Time. During my 40+ years as a nurse, 30+ years as a caregiver, and many years with a chronic illness, I can think of nothing more common than transitions: hand-offs between team members occur many times a day and moving between settings (e.g., home to clinic, hospital to home) occur many times a year for anyone who’s sick. How can it be that our health system is so bad at transitions? It’s as if Mass Transit couldn’t manage transfers from bus to subway, airlines couldn’t transfer bags from one airline to another, or banks couldn’t transfer money from my bank to a store or my employer to my bank. Without transfers mass transit, airlines, banks couldn’t exist. I wrote this article with incredulous frustration. Here’s an overview of the article. Please read the article and let me know your thoughts. How can solving this communication issue become essential for the healthcare community?
To be audacious and take significant steps toward achieving the 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), we patients and caregivers need to better understand key features of our health journeys. When on that health journey, we are patients interacting with a series of care teams: our home team (social network), our community agency teams, our emergency care team, our hospital teams, and on and on. These care teams include ourselves, our caregivers, clinicians, other professionals, and direct care and support staff—people at the center of care. The actions taken by people at the center of care to improve, maintain, or adapt to our health or illness represents our health care. Actions can be diagnostic, taking medications, undergoing procedures, learning, living life and getting help living life. So, our health journey is teams of people at the center of care taking such actions to provide healthcare and service to us.
Transitions – What a Mess
During this journey, we transition from one setting to another, from one team to another, repeatedly. Communication knits this maze of actions, interactions, and transitions together. At its core communication is two or more people or parties sharing some information via some channel (voice, paper, digital, dramatic), one time or several times in a particular setting, hoping to accomplish something that moves us along in our health journey. One of the most persistent and ubiquitous frustrations in health care is that of poor communication. Poor communication at transitions is at the root of much overuse, underuse, and misuse of health resources, and results in the inability of patients to complete recommended treatment. For the patient and their family this means unnecessary delays in returning to health or worse. For those professionals on the care team the incidents of harm, burnout, stress, and frustration cause financial, emotional and career-ending consequences. Poor communication at transitions impacts each of the Quadruple Aims. Read More
My boy, Mike, died 15 years ago today (sigh). Here’s a link to a video of an interview with Mike 4 months before he died. (11 minutes).
This anniversary and attending the National Caregiving Conference last week made me think about being a caree, someone who is being cared for. My grandmother, my mother, and Mike were carees. Mike accepted his mortality but didn’t want someone to have to wipe his butt. That was a point too far. As a Holocaust survivor, my mother craved being cared for all her life, yet was deeply ambivalent until her last days. She fought for control and felt deep gratitude for a warm, kind hand. My grandmother wanted more care than she needed (in my opinion, not hers). I mostly sensed fear. I’m only just tasting being a caree. 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