Changes first start with the health care teams, then the patients. This is key.
 
 
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Team Training

Your primary care offices are probably filled with trained professionals who want to help patients get better. When patients are not changing and especially when their health is worsening, typically, it's not because they are living healthy and happy lives. There is most likely some kind of psychosocial barrier getting in the way.

This is when the team steps in with compassion and curiosity to see what's happening. Investing in this time early will save resources while improving outcomes in the long-term. 

Healthcare for real change requires that behaviors change from all stakeholders. As team members, we must also use compassion and curiosity to change our own thoughts, actions, words, and habits.

"The relationship is the therapy" - a common mantra in the therapeutic world. Any one of us can provide a caring relationship to initiate change.


Patient Validation and Education

Learning about the patient and their lifestyle is the next step to establishing rapport and building relationships. Teams can collaboratively create a robust social history from each interaction they have with the patient. Teams can employ standardized screeners and protocol to assess patient stressors and anxiety and depression symptoms. 

Then, since the teams have been trained, patients will get basic education on what they're going through. This might be a thorough explanation of their diagnosis in real-world language. It might be a discussion on the stigma of medication. It might also be the beginning of conversations on options and what to do next.

 

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Direct services in-house or via referral

Providers working in-house might offer medications to address patient needs. Behavioral Health Specialists might provide brief therapeutic interventions. Other team members are providing warmth and support. It's all about the short-term interventions in a long-term relationship. 

When this isn't enough, the team can provide referrals to trusted community members for long-term therapy. Communication is maintained with both the patient and therapist to provdie full team care.


If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, the investment in training, listening to each other, learning about barriers and providing the basic knowledge for change is tremendously helpful. The team is sharing the responsibility for the patient, which helps alleviate burn-out. The patient is hearing a consistent message from their team, which helps avoid splitting. 

Let's keep chatting about the barriers that you and your team face in helping patients. We all want to help people change and sometimes, we need that help, too.