Improving Care Through Knowledge and Patient Participation
Recently at a provider’s meeting of CORE Physician’s Services (www.corephysicians.org) at Exeter Hospital, one of the main topics was transparency in medicine. In the past, physicians ran individual businesses and the only way most people could learn about the skills, caring and quality of medical care provided was through word of mouth or if something went terribly wrong. Most physicians were selected by patients for the location of the office or a connection with the local hospital.
That has all changed with the more group practices connected with hospitals and changes in technology with online sources of information. Now health care reform requires all providers to meet standards of care for the treatment of specific diseases. With the increasing use of Electronic Medical Records, each patient visit provides a complete record of the quality of care given.
CORE subscribes to this high standard of care and soon that data will be made available for consumers to review. This will in time improve patient services as consumers come to own their care.
In Loving Hannah: Childhood Cancer Treatment from the Other Side of the Bed, the author experienced medical treatment from the consumer side during Hannah’s fight to survive AML. The medical care received at Maine Medical Center and from Maine Children’s Cancer Program was excellent. There were, however, some providers who provided less than stellar care. In writing the book, none of those were listed by name since the aim of the book wasn’t an exposé, but a story of hope and survival. Had there been any of the current mechanisms for evaluating care, I might have participated in an evaluation.
As we health care providers face the future with online report cards on the care we give, we will need to use not only our medical expertise, but our communication skills to educate and include the patient and his/her family in care decisions. The quality of care does make a difference in patient outcomes.