We believe that to achieve complete healthcare, it’s important to provide the best services possible to address health concerns, but also to establish an understanding of the patient’s life and the factors that may have led to or directly created those issues.
Research has shown that 85% of an individual’s health is determined by factors other than illness or medical conditions. By understanding each patient’s backstory, we can get a glimpse into these factors that are negatively impacting their patient’s health, be it access to healthy and quality foods, economic stability, an unsafe physical environment, mental health support, or social isolation and unreliable transportation and take steps to counteract and improve these social determinants of health.
Late last year, Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group social worker LaTondra Crear, LMSW, received a referral for an elderly patient who could no longer drive and had great difficulty making her regularly scheduled appointments with her primary care physician and dialysis treatments. She was relying on her son to get her to and from her appointments, but he did shift work and had difficulty taking off the time needed.
“She started missing her appointments because she felt his job was more important,” Crear says.
The patient was outside of the area for the local metro transit and did not have Medicaid so they could not access transportation available to those with it but was determined to find a solution. After calling the patient’s insurance provider, Crear discovered a reliable transportation option available that the patient was previously unaware of. Crear assisted the patient with the paperwork needed to qualify for the service.
“It was successful in what we’re trying to do, getting her to appointments more consistently,” Crear says.
Creating Collaborative Care
This is what comprehensive care looks like: no matter how massive or incremental it is, our team is doing what we can to extend our care beyond our facility walls and improve patients’ quality of life.
“LaTondra’s ability to get this patient set up with medical transport will help us better care for her,” Patrick Walker, MD, the patient’s provider says. “We greatly appreciate her assistance with this and many of our other patients.”
When it comes to addressing and improving our patient’s Social Determinants of Health, every interaction matters. By listening to what the patient needs and using all our resources in a coordinated manner, we are able to make a difference in the care that we provide.
“There’s more to medicine than medicine,” Crear says.