As I re-read that title I think, I wonder how many people believe that technology is a barrier to patient care.  Especially given today’s environment where adopting Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is becoming so prevalent.  We can thank the federally funded meaningful use programs for the incentives to do so. (Home Health software and Hospice software meaningful use money will come someday, right?)

I recently came across some content and information produced by Dr. Abraham Verghese. He has gained many perspectives over his years as a physician and professor.  He speaks and writes about the modern world of medicine losing some of the personal touch with patients. He provides a wealth of examples of how he, and others have gone back to the ways of treating patients that involve a more personal approach.

During a lecture he gave last summer he mentioned patients taking on the persona of their EHR record.  He calls this the “ipatient”. As I listened to his lecture I realize that in some cases people cease to be individuals and become statistics in a database.

I fully support, and agree with, the use of technology. I particularly support the use of home health and hospice point of care software. Not just because it’s happens to be the environment that I work in, but because of the benefits it can provide.  Think about the call at 3am coming from a family who’s in a panic about something happening with their loved one. Before the use of technology the on-call person would need to go to the right book, look up the face sheet and hope that the latest visit record and signed orders were in the book. In the world of technology the on-call person has access to the most recent visit information available.

I don’t believe that technology has brought on this barrier between patients and physicians and other healthcare professionals. To me it’s no different than the medical professional of yesteryear who previously had their head in my chart looking for something. What that something was, I never quite understood. I believe that technology can and does enhance patient care. And, dare I say it; I also believe it can provide some very valuable statistics to help identify trends that can subsequently help future patients avoid problematic situations.

Conversely I can also see how some might start looking at patient information as data points, instead of as individuals who need us.  How many of us have either seen or experienced a situation where the medical professional who’s treating someone is quite adept at treating the disease, but lacks the skill set to treat the person?  I see this theme coming up more and more and the causes are pointed at technology, costs, staffing, etc.

In my opinion the area that needs further help is education on emotional and mental needs of patients. I don’t know the answer to this, but how much of a medical professional’s education is focused on being attentive to the patient’s mental and emotional needs? Of course, we want our doctors, nurses, therapists and aides to be well versed in the body and how it works, but aren’t our brains and emotions part of that? Can I have my cake and eat it too? Please?

As Home Health and Hospice agency providers, how do you help ensure your caregivers’ are helping patient’s emotional and mental needs as well as their physical needs? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share your comments here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Are you currently using a home health or hospice software solution that you see as being a barrier to patient care? At HEALTHCAREfirst it is our Mission to help you Focus on Patient Care, Not Paperwork. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you!