“The single most underutilized person on the care team is the patient.”

By Steve Moran

Rock Health posted this tweet:  

“The single most underutilized person on the care team is the patient.”

I have had a bunch of encounters with the healthcare system and found this to be so true. The problem is that healthcare systems have too many experts and each of those experts knows exactly (more or less) what needs to be done to achieve the best outcome for the patient. This all sounds great except for three things:

  1. Because there are so many experts, each one is only looking at the specific area they are interested in and they miss the big picture.

  2. Sometimes the data says a body is supposed work one way, but in fact it works a different way. This is particularly true with drugs. (For instance, I used to get fairly regular sinus infections and the standard treatment at the time simply just didn’t work for me).

  3. The patient needs to understand and agree to a treatment or process. When they do, their mental state makes it much more likely that a treatment or course of action will work better.  

I would note that in virtually every case when I pushed back against the medical team, I did it with tremendous respect and deference. They always responded well, with the end result being a better outcome. But I find myself wondering what happens when there is no one to advocate or ask those hard questions?

The Same in Senior Living

I find myself wondering if the same thing happens in senior living . . . knowing from some stories I have heard that too often the answer is YES. A year or so ago, I wrote about a church friend who lives in a senior living community; however, he never participates in any of the activities programs.   

When I asked his daughter about it she told me they ask him to join the programs, yet he says no. While it is clear that he has the right to refuse — and that from the families’ perspective he is well cared for, because he is safe and not complaining — I would argue this is not good enough.  He is not really being involved in creating his own quality of life. I know that he has things he is interested in and — if someone spent some time getting to know him — he would have a better quality of life and would likely have a longer length of stay.

We have this great opportunity to really make sure we are digging deep with our residents.