Thursday, 17 May 2012

Relying on the Doctor

Alf Collins has written about a very inspiring story on the long-term conditions blog on the DH website. He talks about a clinic that was full of patients waiting for the doctor to do something.

"He knew that the biomedical 'treatment' model only gets you so far when working with people who have long-term conditions." - SO TRUE!

One of the most important and possibly easy-to-replicate changes was the education of supporting clinicians about the service provided by the clinic. Passing this information onto patients is valuable - without destroying all hope of treatment, patients need to approach clinics with a sense of reality and therefore appropriate preparedness. Leading on from this they put in place "a system to make sure that patients were prepared to come to the clinic - they were encouraged to know about their condition, to come to the clinic prepared to ask questions and to think about what they might do to manage their health more effectively in between appointments."

This 'we will help you if you help yours self too' approach might be quite contrary to some peoples expectations of doctors but I think giving patients responsibility and control is important. If the patient is not ready to own their health, this approach would not work, but understanding this, they also published outcomes of the clinic "so that patients who might think of coming to the service in the future could make an informed choice about whether the service was right for them." 

This approach feels very sensible and effective - it is a simple but inspiring story! Having a group of patients who rely on appointments for no particular reason is dangerous - empowering them can make more effective use of everyone's time! I would like to attend this clinic!

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