Will Erickson MPH'19 Believes the Patient Should Be the Hero of Their Own Story
As a union organizer and process improvement coach, Will Erickson believes in the power of a group that’s working toward a common goal. So perhaps it’s not surprising that for his Applied Practice Experience (APE), he chose to work with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) in Eastern Massachusetts focusing on the group visit (GV) model of healthcare delivery. Group visits are shared medical appointments with 8-12 patients at a time for 90-120 minutes. The team-based model includes a clinician but often a social worker, dietician, nurse or community health worker. Research has shown that group visits can be highly effective in helping people manage chronic conditions like diabetes.
“Group visits can be more effective than one-to-one care because they flip that traditional provider-patient relationship such that the patient becomes the expert,” Erickson says. “They’ve got expertise in living with the illness and navigating the world with it. And, then they share that expertise with a group of people that they begin to care about and become accountable to. A good group visit doesn’t make the provider the hero of the patient’s story; it turns the patient into the hero of their own story, with help from people like them.”
As part of his work at CHA, Erickson conducted a series of in-depth interviews with providers and administrators about their experience with GVs and how they fit into the larger network of care offered. Five themes emerged from the interviews: 1.) Providers value having a different way to connect with and learn from patients. 2.) sustaining GVs is harder than simply continuing to provide one-on-one care. 3.) Recruiting patients is the hardest part. 4.)GVs offer something very different than one-to-one care: ‘the group is therapy.” 5.) GVs may be particularly suited to CHA’s most socially disadvantaged patients.
“The biggest barrier that I heard about in my interviews with CHA providers was recruitment,” Erickson says. “It’s not intuitive, after all, that group care would be better than individual care. I mean, shouldn’t an individualized, fully customized experience be more effective than something delivered to 10 people at the same time? The thing, though, is that in one-to-one care the experience isn’t so much customized to the patient as it is to the provider or their clinic, really.”
As a follow up to his work, Erickson will be developing a “CHA Group Visit Starter Kit” to serve as a blueprint for launching and sustaining GVs.
“My goal for the starter kit is that when providers of GVs read it, they will feel like it’s just how they would have written it if they only had the time,” he says. “Hopefully, it will read like something they’d tell a friend or colleague who wanted to provide a group visit to their patients and was trying to figure out where to start.”
POSTED 2/18/2019 AT 02:14 PM IN #practicum
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