The healthcare system in the United States is difficult to navigate, hard to manage and impossibly challenging to finance. The silver tsunami is almost upon us and we need better answers. We need to provide better care, improve patient navigation and outcomes while at the same time remaining conscious of costs.
As a nurse, I have been assisting patients and families to navigate chronic and terminal illnesses for nearly 20 years. There are many physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers and certified home health aides that don’t shy away from difficult conversations, provide honest answers to hard questions and advocate for patients’ end-of-life wishes to be honored.
However, problems still exist. We have a system that relies on the subjective perception of each healthcare professional who just might not be ready to have that difficult end-of-life conversation.
Not all healthcare providers are created equal. Each provider approaches every situation with his or her own beliefs, biases and opinions and some providers just aren’t willing, comfortable or capable of assisting patients in navigating the difficult decisions of end-of-life care wishes and choices.
I recently realized the emotional course that these decisions can take.
On August 7, my dad elected to receive his hospice care benefit. This was his 87th birthday and one of the hardest decisions that he has had to make. He met all of the criteria for hospice care—his health has been failing for the last two years and his body and spirit were tired, plagued with chronic heart and lung issues, slight dementia, high blood pressure, hearing loss, and more. Sounded like an clear decision for hospice, right? Well let’s present the other side. His cardiologist suggested more tests, his home health nurse stated that she hated to see him give up and his neurologist recommended another CT scan. It was a tough call for all involved.
You can see the how this became a struggle. He simply wanted permission to stop the madness that is healthcare in 2015. He wanted permission to stop spending all of his time, energy and finances on multiple physician specialists, physical and occupational therapy, never-ending tests and a plethora of medications. There was no right or wrong choice, he could have just as easily said that he wanted to pursue aggressive treatment until the very end but he deserved to have all of the information and decide for himself. That is where I stepped in, both as a daughter and a hospice-experienced nurse. I believe that if I had not recommended to have a hospice nurse come to my father’s home to evaluate him for services no one else would have given him the choice and aggressive care would have simply been chosen for him. Instead, my father was able to make the decision along with family, to begin hospice care.
Healthcare analytics can provide a better path, a better answer.
Nashville analytics company, Medalogix, is a technology solution that could help with presenting an unbiased, analytical viewpoint. Medalogix can help inform in such cases as my father’s, by taking the patient’s assessment, including vitals and OASIS responses, and giving a clear list of patients that need to be presented with an end of life care conversation, that allows them to make the right decision for themselves and their family. Medalogix is the technology that takes the subjectivity and emotion out of this difficult time and answers the question of when and how to have the hospice conversation.
We live in the age of technology. Let’s let technology work for us. Take the subjectivity out of choosing who gets the conversation and promote end-of-life conversations for appropriate patients. Predictive analytics can move our healthcare systems to the next level. As healthcare providers we just have to use the amazing tools that are coming our way.