Rebranding the primary care physician

This past week I received the following email.

Dear Rose,
I appreciate how you always put the consumer first. Praise God for that.
A problem I have is that my primary doctor will recommend that I go to a certain specialist for a particular procedure or consultation. Then there is no communication between them about my case. I do not know the results of tests or medications, etc.
What should I do in that case? It seems that they should be able to develop ways to be in touch with one another and with me.
With love and prayers.

Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon, and similar to many other struggles I continually encounter in the public. It is easy to discuss policy and in theory how to fix healthcare – but in reality, sometimes simple solutions already exist that have not been leveraged, and can be more difficult and frustrating to adopt because changing human behavior is required.
Several things came to mind after reading the struggle described in the email:
(1) Educating and empowering healthcare consumers is important now more than ever. Individuals need to know what they can actively do right now for themselves and their family within the current healthcare landscape;

(2) The focus of spending has been on technology as solutions, when technology such as phone calls, emails, customer relationship management (CRM) software, etc. already exists for communicating between physicians and with consumers. Sound processes and methodologies are needed, with technology as supportive tools. If people are not already performing the necessary processes with existing, readily available technology, the industry continues to automate bad processes (e.g. a consumer went to a local pharmacy and the pharmacist stated there were two prescriptions for the same drug for two different doses, while filling the prescriptions without calling either physician for clarification and coordination. The manager and district manager stated, "This happens all the time.");

(3) With the number of primary care physicians projected to decrease, and a focus to reduce hospital admits with community care and telemedicine, we can redefine PCP.

PCP is the acronym for primary care physician; it can also represent the palliative care process. The financial and emotional value of Palliative Care has been established within the acute care setting. But the value for transcending the continuum (community, home, acute and post-acute care) has been overlooked. Many within the industry still define palliative care as comfort care. But if we describe the actual process of palliative care, we see its true value as a team approach for medical care coordination based upon each individual's wishes and outcomes.

The same process of palliative teams within acute care centers for end of life situations applies to the needed team coordination for treatment in the home and community for chronic conditions. The primary doctor, social worker, nurse/nurse practitioner/physician assistant, educator, pharmacist, pastoral care, specialists, dieticians, and rehabilitation therapists, along with the actual healthcare consumer, advocates, and their family, should all be part of a team with communication for health planning, execution and evaluation – a Physician Consumer led care team Partnership.

Rebranding the already proven successful palliative care process, inclusive of primary care physicians, is the medical care coordination needed for every setting of the continuum – beginning with and sustaining of the communication with the actual consumer regarding their wishes, education and understanding regarding health outcomes as part of a coordinated care plan. Positive healthcare transformation can be achieved leveraging already proven successful processes first, then effectively using supportive technology of sound practices and methodologies.

Addressing basic issues by leveraging what has already been proven successful, and coordinating the various pieces as a solution for positive healthcare transformation:

· Clear definitions of what the healthcare industry needs to accomplish;

· Speaking with, listening to, educating and engaging consumers;

· Leveraging processes that have already been proven successful, rebranding PCP;

· Effective practice to evaluate the success and process improvement needed within health systems regarding population health and patient engagement P&Ps;

· Utilize new BA with the advancing BI along with decreasing the expanding silos in health systems.

Population Health defined inclusive of consumer engagement as the focus, above the patient experience,
for transitioning from patient-centric to consumer-centric with
expanding the traditional care continuum to a health maintenance continuum.

Rose Rohloff is a 35-year healthcare veteran with a background in nursing, business and information systems. She has worked with vendors creating industry leading healthcare software, consulting with $MM healthcare improvement engagements, and bringing new business analytics to the industry. Ms. Rohloff has authored for several leading healthcare journals and currently is presenter for Awareness for Healthcare Consumers.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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