Many hospitals and healthcare institutions have been claiming in recent years that they have moved to a patient centred care model. We see patient portals and support for consumer information in health popping up everywhere! As stated previously, the chronic disease management (CDM) model is quite topical and is constructed with the patient at the centre.
But are we there? Is our system truly patient centred? My answer unfortunately, is a very loud: "no - not hardly!" While it is easy to use the term, it takes a lot more thinking and re-engineering to reshape an industry that is this big and has been around this long. That's why we have a lot of work to do to help the system adapt and change with the times.
In a recent newspaper article, a patient room in a hospital ward "of the future" was described. This concept was displayed at the recent HIMSS (Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society) 2007 conference in New Orleans. The ideas are just facinating and no bounds to how creative the functionality can get ... doctors being able to pull in information from around the hospital and elsewhere in the health system; ordering drugs and updating records. Once again, though, not a mention of the patient using this system - except for, oh yes, to watch TV and check out their hospital bill online!
Is it really important for us as patients to be involved? After all, the system has worked pretty well up until now and we have not been involved - this sounds just like another trend or gimmick!
My response is that could not be any farther from the truth. The system has evolved into what it is today and with the onset of newer technologies, it really has had a difficult time with the adaptation! As a result, our management of the system is becoming rapidly more inefficient. If it weren't for the brave souls of the front-line care-givers and all that they do, the system would have totally broken years ago.
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT CONCEPT. The system today is not held together by a strong information infrastructure but rather based on the "will" and the "backs" of many caring people. We must recognize this ... and them! And then we must help pick up the load.
This will help in so many ways - for each individual patient to be sure - but also for the entire system. Right now, new technologies, like the tech room described above, are failing in their adoption because patients were NOT involved in the design.
The evidence is mounting - next post I will provide my case to prove it to all!