Hope in the Face of Uncertainty
Hope. It seems like such a small word, and yet, in medicine, it has so much meaning, for both physicians and patients alike. Hope is intertwined into the very fibers of science that make medicine not drugs and procedures, but healing remedies and life-changing miracles.
For me, hope has become an active part of how I practice medicine. Working directly with other clinicians, I see the ripple effects of adding hope to a patient’s care plan: for the cancer patient who has entered remission by imaging criteria or for the patient who has a brain tumor with non-aggressive, benign appearing features and thus an increased likelihood of a positive prognosis. As I think about the state of the health care industry, I am aware of the cloud of uncertainty that looms over the future, but I also see the efforts of those around me who long for a better tomorrow, and it gives me hope that I too can be a part of a positive change.
In particular, I am drawn to the power of collaboration and cooperation among clinicians of varying specialties through the creation of Patient Centered Medical Homes, which is transforming how care is delivered. In this model, primary care providers serve the patient’s needs alongside a variety of other providers including advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, educators and care coordinators. Because of these practice models, patients have the potential to get faster, higher quality care even when their medical histories are complex – in both acute and chronic settings. Patients also benefit from the fact that they have access to services more readily, and the quality metrics for how well the system is running rely directly on the feedback from those involved.
Taking this idea of collaboration even farther, for practitioners who offer specialized services, such as in radiology, there have also been efforts to “bring the patient to the reading room” by re-introducing some form of radiology rounds. These efforts redefine clinical questions and provide diagnosticians with invaluable access to the treating clinicians so they can discuss the cases in real time. Such efforts are certainly not without their flaws, often because we have gotten used to the digital PACS system where ordering clinicians can view and “interpret” their own scans. Additionally, because radiology reports are a part of the electronic medical record, patients also have direct access to radiology reports, creating a need for language that is more understandable even to those who do not have a large medical knowledge base. The fact that we are willing to work together to get patients more involved gives me hope that my contribution to the patient’s care is valued and appreciated.
American Resident Project fellows receive compensation from Anthem for sharing their perspectives on this blog. Fellows views are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Anthem, Inc.