In a perfect world, human beings would have little need for the Emergency Department except for trauma, critical illness and emergent conditions. Primary Care Physicians would manage their patients proactively, thus eliminating the need for chronic care management, non-emergent care and routine care management in our overburdened Emergency Departments. Unfortunately, we currently have a dichotomy in healthcare, an ever growing population of chronic disease juxtaposed with a growing millennial population that has wellness as a focus. It is at this crossroad that we need to focus our efforts to provide prospective health management to our human population through the use of technology, namely, patient portal and predictive analytics, to drive healthcare costs down and improve patient health, wellness and satisfaction.
How can we do this, you ask? We do this by simply using the principles of transparency, sharing and spending time with our patients while utilizing healthcare technology to guide us. Recently, Dr. Pauline W. Chen blogged in the NY Times, that sharing a patient’s medical record with them, side by side, led to increased patient satisfaction and understanding. If we combined this interaction with the ability to predictively create health or wellness plans for our patients, this could potentially improve population health as well. For example, a current patient with diabetes, or one with a mildly elevated glucose at risk for diabetes, could view his upward trending hemoglobin A1C and waistline measurements with his physician and together they could create a weight loss and exercise program and monitor risks for cardiovascular care. The physician could receive alerts about outlying values and suggestions for proactively managing care. The patient could then log his weight and glucose measurements into a portal to review with his physician at the next visit. Any labs could be sent to the portal for patient review as well. This would help create a collaborative care plan which would have shared accountability and responsibility and lead to the necessary patient and physician engagement mandated for meeting Meaningful Use. Ultimately, this transparency, collaboration and engagement with the Primary Care Physician would translate into better health and improved patient satisfaction as the patient becomes “healthier.”
Seems so simple, right? But can it be done? The onus is not just upon physicians and healthcare organizations to implement Healthcare IT, portals, business intelligence or predictive analytics. We must also to engage and educate the human population, both providers and patients, to successfully fix a broken system and improve the health of our nation. I am cautiously optimistic.