Cancer, Depression and Treatment of the Whole Person

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At the end of every referral — at the heart of every transaction – at the core of every data point – is a living, breathing person. We all intuitively know that’s true, but in the busyness of daily life – yes, even in healthcare – it’s vital that we’re reminded of that essential truth. This reminder was front and center as Netsmart and our interoperability partners presented a scenario/use case at HIMSS16, the nation’s largest healthcare IT conference.

The HIMSS scenario was about one man, Rakesh Bhat (not his real name). He’s a long-time smoker who has also been previously diagnosed with depression.

A name, Rakesh Bhat, personal details, and even a photo are used in an effort to illustrate that the use case is a reality for many.
A name, Rakesh Bhat, personal details, and even a photo are used in an effort to illustrate that the use case is a reality for many.

Following some concerning test results, his primary care physician alerted a radiologist who performed a CAT scan. Images retrieved electronically by Bhat’s doctor revealed lung cancer, a diagnosis given to Bhat and simultaneously shared with his psychiatrist. After an evaluation, the psychiatrist recommended that his client’s prescribed depression medication be changed to a drug known to be more effective during chemotherapy. What’s more, Bhat is now using his patient portal from the comfort of his home to follow treatment directions from his care team and to explore his records. The myriad of seamless interactions listed above could only be possible with interoperable electronic health records and connectivity solutions.

People are better served if we work collectively to integrate health care services currently siloed in different care systems. As my colleague and Netsmart Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Dennis Morrison likes to say, “When you segregate someone’s behavioral healthcare from their physical healthcare, no good comes from it.”

The conference has concluded but our work isn’t done — we’ll continue to demonstrate how providers can integrate and coordinate care for “whole person” treatment. After all, it’s by focusing on the individual that we make wellness and recovery a reality.