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Patient-centric care is all about relationships

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   By Phil Colpas, August 2013

Does it make you a little edgy to have your vision checked by an eagle-eyed optometrist? It does me. I’d much prefer to have my peepers perused by someone whose driver’s license – like mine – stipulates that he or she be required to wear corrective lenses of some type. I’m not talking Mr. Magoo-level blindness here, just someone who requires an aid of some kind to see properly. It doesn’t matter if it’s glasses or contacts. I’m not picky. (Although if it is the latter, I’d like to know about it; as in, “Oh yes, I’ve worn contacts since I was a small child.”)

I think that’s because, deep down, we’d rather be treated by someone who has had some firsthand experience with the problem(s) facing us.

It’s no surprise, then, that some of the most ingenius healthcare IT solutions are coming from companies started by individuals who have endured traumatic healthcare crises of their own.

Cancer survivor Michael O’Neil founded GetWellNetwork based on the premise that innovations are capable of changing today’s healthcare system in ways that will fully empower patients. GetWellNetwork’s solutions focus on what O’Neil calls “Interactive Patient Care.”

Something interesting and different caught my eyes – and ears – recently, when GetWellNetwork released seven short, black-and-white videos titled the “Transformative Health Series.”

“People say it will cost too much (to improve healthcare and healthcare IT),” says Susan Stone, CNO, Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego. “What I’ve found is it’s really all about the relationships. And having a relationship really doesn’t cost a lot. It’s about, ‘Can you do that?’ And, ‘Do you have the right people on the team to do that?’”

Manya Buske, a nurse at Sharp Memorial, knows all about the power of the relationship. Raised by her grandmother, Buske later had to care for her family’s matriarch when she got cancer. “I loved being able to take care of her,” Buske says. “She raised me and took care of me growing up as a child. To be able to reciprocate that … was a wonderful experience. And then you realize, wow, I can share this with other people.”

Mary Dee Hacker, CNO, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, has never regretted her decision to become a nurse. “Years ago, (healthcare) was more about looking at and doing to,” she says. “We have to move to the next phase, which is not just about caring for (patients) and treating a diagnosis, but to empower them with information and knowledge. The very core of patient-centric care is finding a way to be in conversation with the patient and the family (to determine) what their values are about health and how they want to live their lives.”

Healthcare IT is a powerful tool to help facilitate those relationships.


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