If you believe that there is a pending physician and clinical resource shortage (hence a need for additional “care capacity”); if you believe that costs aren’t being substantially reduced under current reforms (hence a need for new business models); and if you believe that our population lacks true “ownership” of their health status (hence the need for a cultural shift in the way patients relate to their bodies and the healthcare system); then, you see the need for a sea change in the structure and purpose of healthcare delivery.
Develop Care Circles
To achieve this degree of “health culture” transformation, we can start with our communities and their relationships to the healthcare system. Our care systems are currently inhibited by our narrow focus on, and use of, clinical resources—physicians, nurses, and staff. Yet, a wealth of communal resources lies available within our reach, many untapped and most disconnected from the care system. These resources include churches, friends, families, volunteers, civic and service clubs, retail pharmacists, retired clinical workers, etc. If brought to bear and fully integrated into the care of specific patients, the opportunities to expand care capacity, improve outcomes and quality, and create a new “health culture” are suddenly vastly increased.
In this model, “Care Circles” are formed around individual patients in conjunction with and under the direction of a patient and his/her physicians. Communal resources are selected based on their close relationship with the patient (friends, church, family) and/or their availability within the community (volunteers, neighbors, civic clubs). A “Social-Clinical Networking” platform is used to integrate these resources, allocate non-clinical tasks, manage patient interaction, and allow for education, collaboration, and accountability for both the patient and his/her Care Circle. This extends the physician’s “reach” into the life of the patient, expanding care capacity and culture change potential without increasing cost. One such web-based software has already been deployed eTransX, Inc. (with which I have NO financial or business relationship).
Use All Community Sources
With the resources of a community fully tapped for service and integration software turned on, the healthcare system has unlimited possibilities to simultaneously impact capacity, cost, quality and outcomes, and cultural attitudes about the ownership of our health and the care of our bodies. All the insurance in the world won’t save our healthcare system…we need a new model. And that model can only take root when social collaboration allows communities to become truly integrated components of the healthcare system.