There are courageous leaders stepping up and taking a stand to define an optimal heath care experience from the perspective of consumers. A few weeks ago I was discussing the future of patient experience with the CEO of a major hospital system. He told me that he believes that differentiation for his organization will be driven through personalized health care. In his vision, that means care that is proactive, tailored to an individual’s risk factors, seamless, and consistent from the inpatient to outpatient setting. To me, that sounds like care that treats the person as a whole human being, is based on trusted and sacred relationships between patient and caregiver and is incented to care for the health of a population vs. a disease.
Personalized health care is about having a partner who helps you navigate the journey throughout your life. I’ve seen this model work when I was working with Dr. Earl Baaken in Hawaii. There, an individual in the community who was interested in improving her health could go visit Tutu’s House and meet with a care practitioner who would lay out a personalized care plan, a map to take her from where she is today to her vision of good health.
At our CXO Roundtable in April, I met a dedicated nurse who works in the military health system who shares a similar vision. He described his experience in Afghanistan as part of a comprehensive concussion management team. The system had a defined rehabilitation structure for soldiers, but the soldiers had different priorities. “It was often difficult to convey the long term benefits of maximizing therapy when, in their mind, as soon as they were able to stand and carry a rifle, they wanted to return to their units.” This nurse envisioned a system in which healthcare would be defined by the patient’s definition of a successful outcome. We need to be planning for discharge – on the patient’s terms – from the moment of admission.
Understanding what drives and motivates the people who pass through our health systems will be critical as our definition of medicine evolves from one that focuses on sick care to one that encompasses prevention and wellness. My friend Ian Worden the other day walked me through a quick summary of the science behind patient engagement and building a patient’s sense of self-efficacy. This is the next frontier for healthcare providers, one that has traditionally been the domain of payers and disease management firms as they sought to rein in costs. I believe the doctors and nurses of our healthcare delivery system are in a much better position to help patients navigate these changing waters, but only if they are empowered to build relationships and create human connections in their day to day delivery of care.
-Dr. M. Bridget Duffy