Letter: A Beneficiary of Team Medicine
To the Editor:
Elliott Fisher’s proposals for improving health care in this country using the medical team concept (“More Physicians Won’t Fix Health Care,” Aug. 31) are exemplary. I speak as a relatively healthy 90-year-old beneficiary of the team approach to health care here at my retirement community in Hanover. Our team includes a physician, two nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists. Appropriate members of that team meet with the patient and family members as often as needed. At those meetings, options for the type, the amount and the expected outcomes of proposed treatments are discussed. The patient, if possible, and family participate throughout. This is particularly important when dealing with end-of-life issues. The benefits for me and my late husband have been immeasurable.
Furthermore, quality of care and cost savings for everyone can be dramatic. For example, only 5 percent of our community residents — all on Medicare — die in the hospital. Nationally, that average is 27 percent, according to 2006 data.
Variations on the team model that can be used in cities and rural areas with patients living out their lives in their own homes are now being tried. In this electronic age, communications and information of all kinds besides the voice are possible: You and your caregiver can see each other as you talk, and data regarding blood pressure, glucose concentration and body temperature, for example, are easily sent.