During the recent CHIME21 Summer Forum, an interesting discussion took place around empowering patients and caregivers in the pediatric space — which, as any provider can attest, is an entirely different concept. But it’s one that can prove to be a game-changer, according to two highly respected physician leaders: Dan Nigrin, MD, CIO at MaineHealth, and Natalie Pageler, MD, CMIO at Stanford Children’s Health.
Below are some highlights from the discussion, which also included CT Lin, CMIO at UCHealth, and David Chou, CIO at Harris Health System.
- For young children, “empowerment is about the family,” said Pageler, and “how you make sure all members of the family and those caring for that child have the information they need, and can take it from one place to another.
- By leveraging telehealth tools, organizations can enable parents and caregivers to “join” a visit they may not be able to physically attend. In addition, a pediatric home care provider can help improve information sharing among pediatricians, family members, and sub-specialists to “truly coordinate care and put the family in the driver’s seat,” she said.
- As patients enter adolescence, one of the pediatrician’s primary roles is to help them “take more and more control and responsibility for their care,” Pageler noted. “It’s part of our job to educate them on what they should know and how to interact with the physician.” That way, when they turn 18 and graduate to adult care, these patients are able to “take the lead and assume responsibility for their care, and we know they have the skills to do that.”
- To Nigrin, who spent more than two decades at Boston Children’s before recently coming to MaineHealth, a key factor in empowering patients is enabling them to “view their own data, hold it, and do what they please with it.” The physician’s role is to offer the tools and education patients need to interpret the data.
- With the passing of the new data blocking rule, the industry is moving away from the “paternalistic thinking” that patients don’t know how to process or understand their data. “It’s not our decision to make,” Nigrin said. Instead, leaders should focus on helping patients to become more proactive, which he believes is already starting to happen. “We’ve seen a number of steps in that direction.”