Thursday 12 September 2013

Family Health Engagement

When it comes to health we all share the same desires. We want to be able to book an appointment without waiting, get our prescriptions refilled quickly, see our test results and get sound advice from our doctors; in other words receive the best possible care without delay. Even in todays connected, internet based, consumer focused marketplace the challenges of getting an appointment the same day with your doctor is challenging. Dealing with multiple phone calls rather than emails or online booking, the doctor’s office is more like the office in "Mad Men" for the 1960s than what we would expect from modern 21st century offices. Modern medicine is still being "practised" on paper, your health information in a file folder, and if you do receive the information it is often well after the fact.

When it comes to connecting with your family, you’re more likely to do so by email, text messaging, facetime or skype. To communicate with your doctor you need to phone someone, book an appointment, travel to their office, sit and wait, reading out of date mags in a waiting room that heralds back to a bygone age.
You may get some lab results printed out or hand written prescription (that you can’t read) and a few minutes of your doctor's precious time. You may want to consider that you likely spend 1 or 2 hours of your time to book an appointment, travel to the doctor’s office, paid for parking and waited to get 5 or 10 minutes of face time with your doctor.

Then what? If you're not well prepared you could leave the appointment with not much more than a slip of paper, and some suggests. By the time you reach your car or get home you realize you forgot to mention something or have a question still to ask. Too bad, either make another appointment or leave it.

Of course if you are like me and have had to deal with multiple doctors at multiple hospitals and clinic, you learn to come prepared. Make a list of your conditions, keep track of your medications, who prescribed them, when and why? Record your problems and keep all your lab results, prescriptions and other documentation in one place. Why? Because you learn quickly that your family doctor doesn't have the latest results from the hospital, they may not even know you went into a different clinic. And if you go to see a specialist they don't have any idea of your past conditions, operations or medications. Forget about lab results, any new doctor you see will want to run their own test even when it was only done last week and the same lab is used, the new doctor wants their own.

When faced with a serious condition, like cancer a team of doctors are often involved, radiologist, oncologist, internist, and nutritionist; a well-organized team of professional all interested in your wellbeing. Of course, they use the latest technology, advanced drugs and well researched and test methodology, still their most advanced communication to you and your family is likely to be a fax machine, telephone and notepad.

Social networking and the internet technology that has revolutionized every other industry is still faced with an uphill challenge to modernize the current healthcare system. Unable to stem the tide of modern technology it has become apparent to all that no further delay is acceptable. It is an imperative for all healthcare professional to stop using antique methods to communicate in this modern age.

Check out recent article on Clarity Health Journal being used for Family Health Engagement at SickKids.

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