Have you ever referred to your patients by their symptoms or disease processes? The DVT in Bed 4. The STEMI in Room 7A. Head Cold in Exam 2. Looking back on the years I spent doing direct patient care, I’m startled to remember how often my colleagues and I spoke about patients this way. There was never any specific intent to dehumanize anyone, but when you’re seeing patient after patient it can be easy to overlook the whole person and focus on the specific problem you are trying to solve.
Despite this, I think that all healthcare providers can agree that treating the whole person is essential. A patient is not simply a combination of ICD-10 codes. He or she is a person complete with social, emotional, and economic needs. All these things need to be considered if we want to provide the most effective care.
As medicine becomes increasingly digitized, there is a great deal of data being gathered on patients- much of it focused on disease process. This is certainly important, but there is an opportunity to leverage data to help us better understand our patients as whole people.
Does the patient have cultural practices that impact medical care? Do he or she have a care team? What language is the patient most comfortable speaking? Is he or she suffering from financial hardship? Would the patient benefit from a support group?
These are just some examples of questions you may consider asking as part of the patient care process, whether you are caring for someone in the inpatient or outpatient setting. Using smart tools can help you gather – and report on – this data in real time. For example, knowing that you have a large population of patients who would be interested in a mindful meditation program may prompt you to offer this service.
Good data is one piece of a larger puzzle that can point us in the direction of improving whole patient care. As you consider which tools to use in your practice, consider those that will also help you gather some of this non-traditional data.
HybridChart can help you gather smart, actionable data. Schedule a live demo today.