Who Doesn't Deserve a Plan?

“What is a plan?” The Google search came back with 2.6 billion results, but at the top of the page, presented the definition as a noun and as a verb.

  • Noun – a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something
  • Verb – decide on an arrangement in advance

I believe there is an innate, fundamental satisfaction in having a plan and executing it. I also believe that when you involve others in the creation of a plan, the plan becomes even more effective. The plan now represents a public arrangement and trust between the creators, and accountability is known and shared. Plans can be powerful. Plans serve as the launching point for success and failure. I’m not sure everyone shares my enthusiasm for a plan, but then again, not everybody has it as part of his or her actual name.

I see plans everywhere–retirement savings plans, workout plans, weekend plans (hopefully less structured), dinner plans, college plans for our kids, project plans at work, even grocery shopping plans.

If a plan is a detailed proposal for doing something, or a course of action decided in advance, then there are plans everywhere. Some are written down, and some are in our head. And when we achieve the objective of a plan we experience genuine satisfaction in having achieved what we set out to do. Perhaps some would just rather wing it, but would you take that approach if the plan were for your health? And that is the problem; I see plans everywhere except in the one area of life where it matters the most.

We’ve all had experiences in healthcare where we felt in the dark, lost, not sure where we were going, or who we were to see. I’ve worked with some premier healthcare organizations, and I can say it is a fact that even in facilities with all the resources in the world, no plans have been created, none exists that are personalized for the patient, with the patient, and given to the patient.

It is not acceptable that patients must trust that there is a plan to get them back on their feet. As patients we all deserve a plan from our physician and our healthcare providers.

In healthcare we have what some would consider care plans. We also have care pathways, and care sets, and care protocols, and a number of other internal tools that make it easier for the provider to place orders in the acute setting. I’ve heard the term care plan since I began implementing electronic medical records back in the early ‘90s. If everyone has been doing it, and everyone has it, what’s the big deal about a company based on the idea of a care plan? At PinpointCare, we believe the big deal is that none of these previous iterations of a care plan was known to patients. Sure, they were useful to the patient’s immediate care. They expedited ordering, or made clinical ordering more accurate through bundling. But there was no personalization, no interaction with the patient, and the care plan certainly didn’t extend beyond the four walls of the facility where they were ordered. In fact, the care plans applied in acute settings have been the most impersonal. Evidence-based medicine and 3rd-party protocols have achieved a number of improvements, but personalization is not one of them.

For a care plan to be effective you need to actually build that plan with the patient. You need to share the plan with that patient. In fact, the patient should receive a copy of that plan. Only then will we achieve the degree of inclusion, of accountability, and trust that everyone is searching for when they speak of patient engagement. You want a patient engaged in their health? Here's how:

  • Start with the best evidence-based protocols available,
  • Personalize those protocols to the specific traits of that patient,
  • Deliver that plan to the patient, and
  • Hold each other accountable to implement that plan.

We need to keep in mind what a care plan is for, to remember its purpose. Let’s not be abstract about a patient care plan. We are talking about a personal health plan, about maintaining or recovering the quality of life, about taking steps to extend a life. We are acting to transform digital patients who have been catalogued, numbered, classified and abstracted to the point that they are no longer real, into living, breathing humans who could easily be your friends, your parents, your children, or you. If a care plan can achieve that, who doesn’t deserve one?