One-on-one care in the Age of Population Health Management

Not long ago I heard “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” on satellite radio, that old Bob Dylan tune from all those years ago. Made me think about Frieda.

Frieda is a veteran physician and an outstanding clinician with her heart in the right place – always looking out for her patients. However, she was upset and stressed out; Frieda was not a happy doctor. After meeting for coffee one day and discussing the usual frustrations of life as a physician, the world of electronic health records (EHRs) came up. Frieda noted how physicians have their noses “buried in their laptops” and how no one is talking. It’s simply point, click, cut, paste. Frieda felt as though we’ve lost something.

As we talked further, Frieda conceded that things were improving for her as a physician, and the new world of the “digital doc” had great promise. Our conversation reminded me of Robert Wachter’s valuable book from 2015, The Digital Doctor, discussing the dawn of medicine’s computer age. Yes, we have problems, but there is hope.

However Frieda voiced another concern. She worried new strategies such as Population Health Management (PHM) were outside her range of expertise – that she attended medical school to learn how to take care of patients one-on-one. Frieda discussed how she learned to develop relationships with her patients, gain their trust, and forge a collaborative approach to meet their healthcare needs. She worried programs such as PHM were just one more thing to add in her already busy day.

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EHRs, Electronic Health Records, Forward Health Group, PHM, population health management, Robert Wachter, The Digital Doctor

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