The Shifting Patient and Provider Dynamic: Evolution of Patient Care – Breakaway Thinking

The following is a guest blog post by Carrie Yasemin Paykoc, Senior Instructional Designer at The Breakaway Group (A Xerox Company). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.
Carrie Yasemin Paykoc
The relationship dynamic between patient and provider is shifting.  Providers are no longer viewed as the sole investigator and lone decision maker. This societal shift is a result of changing social and regulatory pressures: increased self-empowerment, government regulations and incentives aimed at patient-centric care, access to care through the Affordable Care Act, and access to internet and application-based self-diagnostic tools. For many patients, being able to access their own information and results is now an expectation and in some cases a necessity to save lives. There are many applications, search engines, and patient portals that allow patients to quickly evaluate symptoms, learn about possible causes, and find appropriate medical facilities. For a patient with heart attack or stroke symptoms, these tools can reduce complications and potentially save his or her life.

With access to this type of medical information, providers are no longer seen as veiled mystical healers; they need to commiserate with their patients to achieve the best clinical outcomes. Physician leaders are also echoing this sentiment. CT Lin, MD CMIO at the University of Colorado Hospital & Health Sciences Center presented “The Man Behind the Curtain” at the 2013 Breakaway Group’s Healthcare Forum. This event brought together 100 influential healthcare executives for discussions and presentations around optimizing healthcare IT adoption. During CT Lin’s presentation he expressed the importance of sharing real-time results with patients. By sharing health data CT Lin found a direct correlation between improved patient engagement and clinical outcomes.

At the University of Colorado Hospital, CT Lin conducted his own research initiative to demystify the man behind the curtain with a program called, “We Make Mouse Calls.” The study was modeled after a similar research project at Yale University and evaluated patient communication and perception of overall care. Over the course of six months, 300 patients utilized an online messaging system for prescription refills, specialist referrals, and appointments. After six months, patients were surveyed about their experience. Patient satisfaction with providers dramatically improved amongst this group- 86 percent of patients expressed improvement in communication and care. Patients felt very satisfied and empowered with direct access to their providers. In contrast, a control group of patients who were not privy to the online messaging system expressed marginal satisfaction with their provider before and after the six-month period.

Years later, CT Lin took his research a step further by releasing real-time results to patients using the Hospital’s online platform. Patients were provided some guidance on what results would be available and the normal parameters for these results. The implications of this study were quite profound.  By sharing real-time results with their patients, they noted increased patient trust and empowerment, increased understanding of their condition(s), and an increased adherence to their treatment. With the curtain pulled back and the data revealed providers were able to directly improve clinical outcomes.

Healthcare providers must embrace the shifting dynamic of patient care. Access to clinical data is no longer a privilege of earning an esteemed medical degree. It is now a requirement of providing and receiving care in a patient-centric model. Providers and patients that do not adapt may continue to experience lower clinical outcomes than those that evolve. At the risk of becoming extinct, providers have no other option than to adapt this this model.

To view CT Lin’s presentation from the 2013 Healthcare Forum click the following link:

Xerox is a sponsor of the Breakaway Thinking series of blog posts.