Health Care Homes – A Patient’s Role in Continuity of Care

To achieve change, however, we need to see changes in behaviour from patients, not just health providers.  No amount of technology can ever replace the deep value of a long-term healthcare relationship between patient and doctor…

 

In recent weeks I’ve written a lot about the urgent need to drive deep change into health systems across the world, with the tools provided by Digital Health offering great opportunities to develop new, innovative models of care.  I remain convinced that much of this change will be driven by patients and caregivers making it clear that a variable quality, often unsafe, paper-based health system just isn’t acceptable in this day and age.

To achieve change, however, we also need to see changes in behaviour from patients, not just health providers.  No amount of technology can ever replace the deep value of a long-term healthcare relationship between patient and doctor, particularly in primary care.

Many patients are surprised when I mention this, but here in Australia there is actually no mechanism to formalise the relationship between a patient and their GP (General Practitioner / Primary Care Physician).  Some patients use the language of “my GP”, but there is no barrier to seeing a different GP from a different practice each time we see a doctor.

As patients we sometimes complain about a lack of continuity of care, but I want to remind us that we also have responsibilities in ensuring that continuity of care occurs.  To the extent that it is possible (and I realise for some people that it isn’t), we need to find a good GP and stick with them.  Only by doing this can we maximise the chances of quality care.

I’d also like to call on the Federal Government to recognise that the concept of a “Health Care Home” or “My GP” shouldn’t just be for managing co-morbid patients with multiple chronic diseases.  If we want better efficiency from our healthcare system, let’s encourage patients to accept their responsibilities and stop chopping and changing between doctors.  Perhaps then we can provide a solid foundation from which we can launch the new models of care enabled by Digital Health.

 

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