The workday was winding down. I made a cup of tea and pulled up the dashboard on my computer to review the progress of my patients after surgery. Everyone was progressing beautifully…but one. He reported that his pain had increased over the last 2 days. So I called him on his cell phone:
“John, it’s Dr. Turek. You seem to be having more pain than before after your surgery. Is everything OK?”
“Dr. Turek?? Wow! Yes, everything is fine. I stopped my pain pills yesterday and also went back to work. I guess I pushed it a bit.”
“No problem, John. Just making sure.”
That, my friends, is the new face of great medical care. Taking care of patients in the moment, where they live. Your doctor watching over you when you need it the most.
It’s called Healthloop.com and what a great asset it is to my practice. Why? Because men simply don’t call. However, they will tell you what’s happening on a secure website when asked about how they are doing after surgery. In fact, they will even take the opportunity to “tweet” me on Healthloop when they might not know exactly how they should be doing.
The brainchild of a physician-colleague named Dr. Jordan Schlain, Healthloop is a medical work of art at the vanguard of a whole new field of medicine called “home-based care.” What’s revolutionary about this concept is that it helps patients stay at home, obviates travel to the doctor’s office, opens up new lines of communication and empowers patients. It is also a practical and inexpensive alternative to the vaunted “house call” of generations past. I offer it to every patient under my knife.
The time is now for remote monitoring—taking care of patients from afar. Aged patients are less mobile and harbor more chronic conditions that may just as well be watched from home. In addition, technology is now more widespread (Healthloop is web-based), miniaturized and portable than ever. Finally, there is a constant push to reduce healthcare costs and what better way to do that than by helping patients avoid doctor’s visits or even emergency room visits.
What I like most about home-based care is that it engages patients in self-care as never before. And with young men, the added communication with a provider is empowering. As John said: “Thanks, Dr. Turek…it’s nice to know that my body is healing normally after surgery.” The house call is back. William Carlos Williams would be proud.