Increasingly the delivery of healthcare and the management of health involves teams. These teams can include physicians, nurses, social workers, and pharmacists and they always should include the patient. These teams can span organizational boundaries and include hospitals, physician offices, the patient’s family, store-based clinics, and health plans. In order to connect all the members of the care team, we can use social collaboration to share data and increase learning.
Highly-effective care delivery requires collaboration
This evolution is based on the recognition that making significant improvements in care delivery and the preservation of health requires that multiple disciplines be brought together to collaborate over time. For example, the replacement of a hip requires the collaboration of surgeons, anesthesiologists, rehabilitation nurses, the patient and their family, and the patient’s physician. The management of a chronic disease may require the collaboration of specialists, social workers, the patient, and nutritionists.
EHRs and interoperability can leverage social collaboration
Social collaboration can be enabled and materially leveraged by a wide range of information technology tools and applications. For example, the electronic health record, through interoperability with other EHRs, can provide all members of the team with a comprehensive set of data about the patient. These records can also include team-based care plans that enable all members of the team to view the plan, assign tasks, and develop team documentation. Decision support logic can remind team members of the need to perform certain tasks.
Patient-centered technologies support health monitoring and social collaboration
Patient-centered technology such as the personal health record and home/work-based devices that enable ongoing monitoring of a person’s health status can provide real-time monitoring health status. This can enable all members of the team to monitor health, determine the effectiveness of care interventions and respond rapidly should the patient’s condition deteriorate.
Social media sites that support the formation and vibrancy of communities of individuals with common life situations can enable team members to learn from each other and provide emotional and lifestyle support as needed. Patients can learn how others have dealt with specific situations. Caregivers can learn from patients about the challenges they face in managing their health and the effectiveness of various interventions. Life sciences companies can learn about possible adverse effects of medications and potential secondary uses of these medications.
Information technology support of social collaboration is, in many ways, in its early stages of maturity. And team-based healthcare and health management is also immature.