Most people who live with a chronic illness end up with a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with healthcare. How would you improve or change your healthcare experience? What would you like to see happening during medical visits with your healthcare team? How about when dealing with your health insurance companies? What's your Healthcare Wish List or Biggest Frustration? Today is the day to share it all!
Excuse my tardiness. I started this last night, but got very, very tired and felt quite unmotivated. Today is a better day for motivation.
In my perfect world, Healthcare would be more unified. At the moment, trying to access a range of services is a very disjointed, costly and timely practice. As a Type 1 Diabetic, my healthcare team should consist of:
- A GP
- Diabetes Educator
- Podiatrist (I had to ask my husband:"What are those foot people called again?" because I never see these guys)
- Mental Health team
- Probably a bunch of other HCPs that I don't even know exist
Each of these different HCPs and medicine areas need different types of referrals, and usually require you to prompt your GP to be given information about them. A lot of the time, unless I know about and ask for the service that I am wanting, it's never mentioned to me. I've only seen the podiatrist once, because I had one service left-over on my care plan and the care plan nurse just allocated it to the podiatrist. I haven't seen a dentist for a little while because nobody is prompting me too, and that's just another thing to remember about my health. I do get a reminder to see an optometrist so I can get my licence every year, and I make my endo & educator appointments reoccurring appointments (Yeah, you can do that. Medical software has a cool 'Make reoccurring appointment' button that you can ask the receptionist to click).
With a disease like diabetes, trying to balance all of these appointments is hard enough, let alone doing the leg-work on each to find good doctors (or any nearby doctor at all), get a referral and make an appointment for each. Where you are regularly checked for each of these health points, and from this given access to doctors who will meet your health needs. My experience is that most HCPs don't know who to even send you to when you do ask, and they expect to be told a name to write on the referral. I was lucky that I already knew my endo before I was diagnosed, and that my endo passed me on to the worlds best diabetes educator. I did ask my GP for a mental health care plan once to talk about some mental health issues I was having related to my diabetes. I didn't know the name of anyone particularly good in that field, and was given a referral to the first name alphabetically on my GP's list of mental health professionals. The person that I did end up seeing thought that hypos were hilarious and said she liked watching people have them. As a side note, my fear of hypoglycaemia and subsequent high BGLs was why I was seeing her......She was not a winner in the health professional field.
So I guess ideal access for me would follow a path of:
1. See GP.
2. GP refers on to clinic nurse for full assessment of multidisciplinary health needs.
3. Nurse does up plan covering each aspect of your health (eyes, feet, teeth, mental health, educator, endo) and is able to give you suggestions on who meets your needs in each area. (This would rely on a better, shared health service where GPs can access notes about services in their areas used by all health professionals. The current model is very segregated where GPs must build up their own database of names, and sometimes they do not have any listed. I'm not asking for a program where Drs rate each other, bur rather an accessible database where basic details of any services (ie. area of interest, price, waiting list, what they are used for/do, etc) in the area can be logged by anyone coming across a new service. I do something similar to this in my job for a particular disease and patients are always very grateful that they can be told about multiple services near them in one conversation.
4. Referrals are given and arranged for all at the one time. This can also include support services such as health organisations (Such as DQ) or even support groups for particular illnesses in the area, rehabilitation programs, etc.
For patients who struggle to know which doctors they need to see and what support is available to them this could be a lifeline. As I mentioned previously, I run a support group, and my educator now gives out my contact details to any patient that she thinks would benefit from peer support. I am happy to work with her on this because it is one less thing for patients to worry about, and really creates a holistic approach to healthcare.
For other brilliant posts on this topic, please see here