The Patient Centered Medical Home, it is an important topic a lot of people have been talking about recently. I’ve written a little bit about what ‘home’ means. I want to write more about what patient centered really means. As I listen to more and more discussions, I am struck by the crucial role that communications plays in all of this. Patient Centered Medical Homes have increased communications between patients and their providers, it is part of what makes a home patient centered. It has increased communications between different employees of the home to make sure that everyone knows as much as they need to know in order to provide the patient the best care possible. It is an approach to care that infuses the whole organization.
So, as I sit in the social media manager’s office as part of the communications and creative services department, I have to ask, what is my role in the patient centered medical home? What is the role of the department I work in?
Communications is a crucial part of the patient centered medical home, but much of that communications is private communications between the patient and the provider. Social media and public relations is public. Yet there are public things that health centers should be doing. For example, we can always be helping people learn more about healthy lifestyles. One good example of this is our national childhood obesity program, Recess Rocks. Not only are we working on ways to help move kids to health, we have encouraged kids to share their own ideas and our video contest winners had some great ideas.
Another way we can help people learn more about healthy lifestyles is our new Patient Files. These are articles with helpful information from dental care for children, to information about heart disease.
For Valentine’s Day, the Patient Files has an article about how to keep relationships healthy. Dr. Tim Kearney, behavioral health director at Community Health Center, Inc. observes that “From the very beginning, we are social creatures”. If you are struggling with specific problems, he suggests joining a support group. He also talks about getting out and meeting people. This can be done using online tools like MeetUp.com.
You can even use sites like Facebook or Twitter to connect to people and find new things going on, and I encourage everyone to follow CHCConnecticut on Twitter and to check out our Facebook page. Just as we hope that CHC can be a patient centered medical home for many people in Connecticut, hopefully some of what we share online can become a patient centered medical homepage.