Building Your Own Health Care Team

Those of us in the health benefits and wellness arena probably think we are educated consumers of health care, able to make all the right decisions; but if you are in an accident or experience an urgent health issue and are unable to speak for yourself, is there someone who knows what health benefits you have, what medications you are taking and what your wishes are?  If you don’t, chances are that your employees and family members don’t either.

In 2011, MBGH’s “Triggers & Barriers to Engaging Employees” research paper found that it was important for individuals to build their own health care team as a way to best support them in managing their health and overall care. 

According to HPN WorldWide, a population health management company, building your own health care team can make all the difference in getting health care.  HPN’s “Survival Guide for Better Health Care” shares the following important information:

  • You are the most important person on your health team – You are the critical link in building and maintaining an effective health team for better health care and results. In fact, most of us already have the beginnings of a health team with support available through work, health plans, friends and neighbors
  • Your Doctor(s) – Partner with a good primary care physician. Recognize your health team gets bigger when you go into the hospital – doctors, nurses, therapists, chaplains
  • Your Family and Friends – They can assist with visits to the doctor, health decisions, help while you’re in the hospital and even help with your care. Vital to good health teams are relationships of trust
  • Your Pharmacist – Get to know your local pharmacists who can help you evaluate your medicines, screen for dangerous drug interactions, answer questions about how a medicine works, address side effects, how to take it and even recommend a generic medicine when available to save you money
  • Your Dentist – Your oral health care affect your overall health so it’s important to get needed preventive exams, treatments and referrals
  • Available Phone Support through the following:
    1. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) – You may have access to an EAP, which can be especially helpful for counseling, research and support for mental and behavioral health problems, stress from being a caregiver at home or working with aging parents
    2. Nurseline – Those offered through your employer or health plan –
    3. Case Managers/health coaches – can assist with complex health care needs
    4. Emergency numbers – 911, poison control hotline
  • Other health professionals – At clinics, hospitals, home health services  such as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, therapists, registered dieticians
  • Mental, behavioral, family – social workers, psychologists, family therapists

At the core of health care reform is the development of new and innovative approaches to health care delivery.  One key initiative, Patient-Centered Medical Homes, also known as Medical Homes or Advanced Primary Care models, has become popular because of their emphasis on building a health care team centered on the patient experience. This model of care has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness in improving clinical outcomes, using multi-disciplinary teams and has proven especially effective in helping patients manage chronic diseases like diabetes. 

According to the AHRQ this approach can have the following impacts on a patient/employees health:[5]

  • Patient-centered approaches to care have been shown to improve a patients' health status. These approaches rely on building a provider-patient relationship, improving communication, fostering a positive atmosphere and encouraging patients to actively participate in patient-provider interactions.
  • A patient-centered approach has been shown to lessen patients' symptom burdens.
  • Patient-centered care encourages patients to comply with treatment regimens.
  • Patient-centered care can reduce the chance of misdiagnosis due to poor communication.