Technology helps with increasing efficiency, defining a patient’s needs, and gathering information before the appointment.
Palliative care physicians know that patients often have a number of questions for their doctors during their first appointment: What does my care plan look like now? How do you collaborate with my existing medical team? Can you help me achieve my quality-of-life goals? Without easily digestible, educational resources widely available, patients may have questions for weeks in between appointments until they are able to visit with their physician again. PCforMe is an online tool, available through the Acclivity Health platform, that uses interactive videos to educate patients and their caregivers about how palliative care works, its benefits, and clearly define their care plan goals. PCforMe’s palliative care questionnaires can be sent to new patients in advance of their appointments to help them collect their thoughts, which will often involve discussions that are stressful and potentially lifechanging. They can bring their completed conversation guide to their appointment, and their responses can be shared ahead of time with their physician, so all parties start the appointment on the same page. Knowing a patient’s goals and concerns in advance helps providers be more efficient with their time, and ensures the patient is able to fully participate in decision making.
“The platform is meant to create a conversation guide between patients, their caregivers, and their palliative care clinicians,” says Acclivity Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arif Kamal. “The idea is to engage the patients to be the agenda setters, and that is what clinicians want as well. Often, they don’t know what is appropriate to talk about or if we’re the right person to ask, so PCforMe gives them permission to ask what’s on their mind. You can actually engage in patient-centered care and converse about what’s on their minds, which leads to more collaborative decision making.” PCforMe’s effectiveness in patient education was demonstrated in a recent clinical trial, but the tool also has value to practices. Dr. Kamal is a lead researcher in a landmark study which predicts a shortage in palliative care physicians, as covered by Forbes. Workforce data shows that the number of palliative care physicians is not increasing, and two thirds of the existing workforce will soon be of retirement age. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, Dr. Kamal believes the doctor-to-patient ratio will soon be 1:808. Efficiency during a shortage of this magnitude will be more important than ever.
“We’re hoping PCforMe will help providers inform more people in a shorter amount of time. Clinics are trying to improve their efficiency by getting to what’s on patients’ minds quicker without having to explain who they are and what they do. If you look online for information on palliative care, there’s lots of conflicting messages, and none are tailored to a patient’s specific needs.”
PCforMe could even help more patients be seen by utilizing nonspecialized personnel when appropriate.
“You could imagine in a workforce shortage, a clinic could have patients complete PCforMe and then interact with their nurse or care navigator. Once you’ve curated their needs, worries, and desires into one place, you can take a team-based approach without starting in the default way where all patients see a doctor first and then see other specialists. This makes that triaging process more streamlined, and eases the burden on physicians and nurse practitioners,” says Dr. Kamal.
And in the spirit of efficiency, PCforMe is designed to fit into the existing workflow of a practice. It’s sent up to two weeks in advance to patients, who can complete it in the comfort of their own homes, rather than creating a long paperwork trail for office staff. Also, it does not ask for sensitive health information, and only takes about 15 minutes to complete.
PCforMe is available to patients and providers connected via Acclivity Health’s platform. For more information on how to use PCforMe to engage your patients, call 904.562.1368 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.