There are three components to addressing any organizational problem: processes, technology, and people. That’s as true for healthcare as a big multinational manufacturer.
Heaven knows the healthcare industry faces challenges. Pressure mounts to reduce costs as many getting coverage through the ACA face double-digit increases in their premiums and pharmaceutical companies become publicly despised for massive price hikes in long-available drugs. For all the money the U.S. spends, it’s still behind many other industrialized countries in patient outcomes. Care providers feel internal pressure to cut costs and still find better ways of serving their populations.
Healthcare organizations have looked at processes, technology, and people for potential solutions to the problems before them. In one area, people, providers find there may be more help available than budgets allow. The extra help comes from the patients themselves.
Take the treatment of diabetes as an example. Under the National Standard for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support, there are two major ways to improve care. One is to improve education in the ways they can gain the “knowledge, skill, and ability” necessary. The other is to help the person attain and sustain the necessary behavior.
According to pharmacy graduate degree candidate Heena Mavani, children with diabetes, in particular, need specific and specialized education in how to manage and control their condition. She suggests such steps as teaching disease management skills not just to kids with type 1, but also with type 2 diabetes. All children 14 year or older should have self-management education and support, which is the time they begin to develop the executive functioning skills to manage the disease. Adults should also realize that children under 14 aren’t ready to take on the burden. Parents should be involved in the process, along with technology like text or email reminders that have a chance of working with a wired generation.
Speaking of being wired, people are modifying diabetes-related treatment equipment at home, moving at a speed that vendors wouldn’t, or couldn’t, dare.
[M]any diabetics have been thinking creatively about how to best use the available tools for years before that. Many diabetics find themselves with few affordable options that truly make their lives better, and with little support in learning how to use them. Now thanks to online communities, diabetics are finding others with which to share best practices, from the best diet to hardware and software hacks.
There are risks, of course, but also the potential of great benefits, especially if care providers and medical device vendors connect to the available groups and learn what they’ve accomplished. When you don’t have enough hired help to get done everything you need to, why not welcome volunteers?
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