Why we should be impatient about patient‑centered care

Ben Duchac, RNProduct Team

Healthcare | Jan 11, 2017

Every day, people walk into their primary care physician’s office seeking help with known or underlying mental health conditions. Did you know that at best, only one out of three will receive an intervention that actually works?  Successfully treating the other two-thirds of patients is not just the right thing to do; it’s a $162 billion medical savings opportunity – but it’s also one of the most difficult problems for our health care system to solve.

As an inpatient nurse on a medicine/oncology unit, the care teams I worked on were multidisciplinary – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers coordinating care for our patients. One of our goals was ensuring that before a patient was discharged, they had all the services they needed to remain healthy. Our social workers would spend countless hours to set up everything from specialist appointments to home visits with a dietician. Mental health care was always a challenge, no matter what they tried.

Despite the best efforts of a dedicated team, calling in favors, and being in the center of one of the most densely packed cities in the US, more often than not, we would find mental health care specialists booked up months in advance, unable to accommodate our patient needs or insurance. When we discharged patients without being able to address their mental health needs, it was with a head-shaking acceptance that we readmitted them weeks or months later.

Healthcare can be better, and the solution is clear: a tech-enabled patient-centric view of physical and mental health, from inpatient care to specialists, where information transfer and communication is easy, secure, and fast. Today’s reality is anything but that: physicians are faced with fragmented EMRs, where fax machines are still the gold standard of communication. Mental health specialists, frequently isolated from their primary care peers, are chronically underutilized. And despite decades of research showing that addressing mental health early and often is tied to better outcomes and decreased costs, our healthcare system has yet to catch up and we struggle to execute on that goal.

At Quartet, we use technological resources strategically by identifying patients with unmet needs, screening for behavioral health issues, offering a seamless in-network referral to mental healthcare, and easy communication between those providing care.

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