Emotional Care – Reaching Beyond Treatment
With 2013 planning well under way, our clients need to know the most effective ways to work with health professionals and consumers. As healthcare communications professionals, we can provide the greatest benefit by keeping close track of rapid changes in the current health landscape in order to inform successful strategy and engagement. One such noteworthy trend is the shift to more patient-centered healthcare.
The health industry is experiencing an increase in the number of organizations incorporating emotional care into the overall patient health continuum. A number of studies, such as the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, confirm the importance of psychosocial support, stating that emotional care is just as important as medical care in the face of a serious diagnosis, such as cancer.
JPA applauds organizations that have begun to address emotional care as part of a comprehensive care plan. For example, the Cancer Support Community – a current JPA client – developed the Cancer Survivor Registry, a “gap” program that picks up where treatment leaves off and the journey to recovery begins. The Registry collects and shares stories of the emotional, physical and social experiences of those impacted by cancer in order to improve care for others who may be facing a similar cancer journey. Similarly, the Alzheimer’s Association developed the Alzheimer’s Navigator, an online questionnaire for patients and families that formulates a personalized community resource plan based on individual needs.
This personalized, patient-centered approach to healthcare supports the fundamental shift in the way health organizations relate to and engage patient constituencies. Furthermore, ongoing changes to healthcare regulations will continue to affect how patients and health organizations interact with each other. The measures we take now to educate our clients and guide them through changes in the healthcare landscape will ultimately benefit both their work and the patient community’s progression from treatment to recovery.