Traditionally, point-of-care (POC) has been the space where diagnoses or treatment decisions are made or where disease state education takes place, typically within the confines of doctor’s office or hospital. Patients and their carepartners no longer live in this arbitrary space. Why do we continue to incentivize this model? Why do we continue to prioritize and dedicate billions of dollars annually to innovating and marketing in this outdated space? Why do we continue to design innovations and digital tools that can only assist patients within the confines of this traditional space, as opposed to connecting the dots and streamlining continuity of care where it happens the most, in real-life?
We must stop visualizing POC as a stationary moment and open the aperture to see the potential of a dynamic continuum of care. We must stop viewing POC as where the doctor is and explore the broad spectrum of places where patients are and live. Disease state education, treatment decisions, and the pursuit of health predominantly happens beyond the 4 walls of the exam room and hospital. POC is happening at retail clinics and via telemedicine. Social media has led to the development of powerful peer-to-peer networks that support patients and carepartners with round-the-clock dialogue with global perspectives and expertise. We must stop solely focusing on digital, sleek, buzzword-filled innovations for the future. We must not forget the power of the human touch, rolling up our sleeves and venturing out into local communities to connect with real people in their daily lives. A study recently published by the NEJM reports on the successful management of uncontrolled hypertension in non-Hispanic African American males at barbershops. You read that correctly. Barbershops. Specialty-trained pharmacists fostered trusting relationships with barbershops and their clientele and demonstrated significant reductions in blood-pressure with medication management. This may be the most powerful POC yet. We need to blow the doors off of this example of real-life POC STAT.
Think about your life right now. Where are places in your local community that you faithfully frequent? Perhaps it is a house of worship, where you exchange in conversations with others from your local community regularly. Conversations about health are happening here. Perhaps it is a barbershop or, for ladies, a beauty parlor or nail salon. Some people may skip their follow-up appointment with their primary care doctor, but not their monthly haircut, color and set, or gel manicure appointment. Conversations about health are happening here. Perhaps it’s the local laundry mat or dry cleaners. Information about health is being exchanged here. Perhaps it’s the local deli or bagel shop. Some may skip filling their prescriptions, but never their Sunday paper, coffee, and buttered rolls. Some may not manage their blood glucose or count calories regularly, but they’ll never skip playing their lucky numbers at the corner bodega. We have become so wrapped up in innovating to improve healthcare that we have become impervious to the sound of the pulse of our local communities. Where is all of the budgeting and innovation for these avenues? Where are the priorities? Where are these conversations?
Please tell me. I’m here waiting, listening.
Grace Cordovano, PhD, BCPA is a board-certified oncology patient advocate, patient experience enhancer, and Citizen Health 2018 Ambassador.
Follow her on Twitter: @GraceCordovano