Personally, I think this is a huge issue with my care.
Put simply, my doctors don’t talk to each other. I know this because I end up being the one to fill each doctor in on the appointments I’ve had since last seeing them (which tend to be a lot).
Now, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s good. It makes sure that I am on top of my health, which is as it should be.
But when I am seeing three different specialists, plus my general practitioner, and the various support staff that I encounter at pharmacies, labs, and outpatient clinics, it isn’t easy for me to facilitate this communication on my own. Plus, I’m not a doctor. I don’t understand exactly everything that they tell me, and there are things, also, that I don’t get told about directly.
At this point, I’m lucky if the report from one doctor is sent to the correct (other) doctor.
I know that having your medical team communicate is an essential task when you have an illness or set of illnesses that warrants multiple doctors and long-term care, but I don’t know how to do it.
I think that, overall, I’m fairly hands-on and proactive about my medical care, given my age and relative inexperience with the medical profession (until now). But this issue is a huge complex in my life. And I’m sure it is for others, as well.
These various doctors make up my healthcare team, and together, they should be committed to moving my care in the right direction.
Along with doctors talking to doctors, there is my job as a patient, being forthright and upfront about new symptoms and things about my care that I don’t understand. And overall, I think I do a pretty good job of communicating with individual members of my team.
But I’m not one of those patients who has been in the system long enough to take my own vital signs and immediately know when something is a problem. I’ve only recently been able to really recognize a flare.
I guess it’s hard, too, when there is no real “leader” of this team. My general practitioner is extremely helpful with offering advice, but in terms of the care I receive, that mostly comes from my rheumatologist.
But I definitely feel like often times, lines get crossed between doctors and I am the one forced to untangle them. As one can imagine, this isn’t always easy.
So, other than somehow forcing our doctors to sit in the same room together and discuss our health care, how do we fill this void, making it as simple as possible for both patients and doctors?