Laura Adams, our first keynote speaker at the 2017 Home Care and Hospice Conference and Expo in Long Beach, revealed the secret to improving quality of care in her presentation: “Our Data, Their Stories: Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare.”
As the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute – a center of collaborative innovation that advances health care transformation – she focuses on how to improve the quality of care we provide to our patients. But, even an intrepid quality of care advocate is not immune to the shortcomings of our health care system.
Before receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, Adams had gone through all the standard diagnostic tests and procedures at various health care facilities in the Boston area. She was dismayed at how little information was shared between them and how she was not considered part of her health care team. She was placed under unnecessary extra stress after having to wait weeks to find out if her cancer had spread throughout her body, and she was scheduled for a double mastectomy even though her other breast tested clear. This experience does not bode well for patients, especially those who may not speak English or those who have low health literacy.
She says a patient-centered approach makes all the difference and is the key to improving quality of care. “NAHC and its members are perfectly positioned to architect the future of health care through the eyes of the patient and family. The best new designs will arrive out of wisdom imparted by our patients’ stories. No one is in a better position to hear those stories than you,” Adams said.
Collaboration and data sharing for the benefit of patients and families are key. Home care and hospice leaders can help by:
- Being open to change and supporting a patient’s definition of health instead of just treating their disease.
- Engaging with patients and learning what matters to them by asking probing questions and finding out what gives their life meaning and purpose.
- Mining their family and friends for inspiration and guidance on how to redesign health care.
- Encouraging patients to create advance directives and making them easy to access
- Supplementing data with stories for deeper meaning.
- Including patients and their families as part of the care team.
As home care and hospice professionals, we are on the front lines of patient care, and we have the power to disrupt and transform the industry by focusing on patient and family engagement. As Laura Adams said, we must learn how to use this information and data in a meaningful way as we continue to improve the quality of care we provide.