The Christmas season is always a time of contrasts: what was, what is, what might be to come. I’ve seen those contrasts take many forms during my 20+ years as a nurse, as the state of healthcare revealed itself in the faces and lives of my patients.
Long before the days of “meaningful use” and “patient engagement,” Christmas meant isolation at home for some patients. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes as they transitioned from in-patient to outpatient status, relieved to go home yet apprehensive about the what-ifs. Their primary providers were on vacation, their non-emergent treatment was on a holiday hiatus, and the only lifeline they had available if they suddenly felt worse was a 911 call or an expensive trip to the nearest ER.
Today, we can celebrate a dawning era of connected care that holds great promise. New tools are available to help that patient manage his own health, in collaboration with a care team tailored to his needs. As these tools are piloted in a variety of care settings, hopes are high. Patients and providers alike are adjusting to a new world in which medical records and medication management and discharge plans can be as close as the smartphone in their pocket.
What Might Be
Watch a diabetic learn to prick her finger for blood-glucose testing, or an elderly man struggle to remember what medications to take at what times, or an oncology patient battling post-chemo fatigue while praying for minimal side effects. Feel their anxiety, their confusion, their uncertainty about whether they’ll ever feel good again.
Then imagine you had the power to relieve their suffering, to improve their care, to advance their health.
Imagine providing life-changing healthcare access through those smartphones or computers.
Imagine educating people about how to use those devices to track their own vital signs or their chronic-illness symptoms and transmit them automatically to their healthcare providers.
Imagine how much better our healthcare system functions when people communicate with their providers quickly and get the care they need before a problem escalates to a more serious (and more expensive-to-treat) level.
What better time than Christmas to remember what was, to see what is, and to recommit ourselves to the work of making access to healthcare…for everyone…more than just a dream?
Jennifer Dunphy, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN
Clinical SME, Get Real Health