Integrated Care – Thinking Like a Patient

When Simon Stevens took up his role as CEO of NHS England, in his first speech he mentioned that we all need to “think like patients” as we move forward to change healthcare. I began to think about this in some depth and reflected on not only my experiences as a patient, but also on the life and health of the “older” members of my family.

By Stephen Boyle RGN, BA (Hons) MSC – Clinical Subject Matter Expert with CSC

I have several older relatives and friends who seem to have a “contact” with a healthcare service of some type each and every week. I look at their calendars and see appointments with the GP, appointments with the practice nurse, hospital outpatient visits, visits to the pharmacy and – you get the picture. I also see them trying to fit the rest of their lives around this busy “healthcare timetable.” However, my older relatives are for the most part in good health and have the capacity and capability to manage this busy schedule.

WESTF018673The above analysis poses several questions that I think integrated care needs to address. Firstly, does a patient need all these “contacts” with healthcare professionals? Why are so many “face to face”? What if my elders lacked “capacity and capability” to keep to this punishing schedule and if they did, is there some way of supporting them in this?

To think like a patient means that we have to be able to offer health and social care services as services – services that “fit around your life” and not the other way around. Integrated Care needs to create services that can be accessed flexibly and use “asynchronous” models for care monitoring, such as TeleServices. In addition, it needs to have the capacity to support patients to maximize contact with services in their own homes and reduce lost healthcare capacity.

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