Reading, writing and talking about our healthcare delivery system is one thing, but experiencing it first hand can be an eye opening experience. Last week, a close elder relative slipped on her icy porch in 10° F weather and shattered her shoulder. Luckily, her screaming brought her neighbors to her side, and an ambulance was called. She lives in a rural town on the state line, and she had a choice of two hospitals. She chose the one in the neighboring state, and was fortunate to be operated on by one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in that state, who specializes in shoulder replacement surgery. The surgery proved to be successful.
Her care was superior at the small community hospital, which was part of a large integrated health system with a full EMR. She had a private room, excellent care, visits from family and friends, and even therapy dogs. The hospital staff was really outstanding, everyone from the front desk staff, nurses, physicians, case workers, and cleaning staff. Their attitude and service were amazing.
Luckily, when she was discharged from the acute care hospital, we had already researched nursing home/rehabilitation centers, and she was moved to one near her town. She will be there for a couple of months, getting her shoulder back to operational status. Her family physician, part of a different large health system will be monitoring her chronic conditions using their EMR system. In the meantime, when she arrived at the rehab center, they needed her doctors’ contact information as well as family contacts, which I ended up typing on a list. The rehab facility appreciated the information, since they utilize a skilled nursing documentation system not connected to any hospital system.
So as we wind down the year 2010, I feel lucky to know there was a community of disparate neighbors, friends, doctors, nurses, and rehab specialists who came together to help my senior relative. The disjointed continuum of care across two states, two health systems and a rehab center/skilled nursing, seemed to work for my relative’s healthcare delivery, but it nonetheless brought to light the need for a better sharing of data among health systems, doctors and care givers, especially for senior patients.
So I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year and watch out for the ice.