Since healthcare in the United States is a specialist-driven system, aging parents wind up with provider teams. Overall, this is a good thing, but it creates two persistent challenges:
1. Keeping an accurate roster of providers, what they do, and the best way to communicate with them.
2. Keeping the providers on the same page regarding health information.
The second problem may seem odd. Isn’t the healthcare system integrated so changes in a patient’s health are automatically updated with the entire medical team? The short answer is no, and it would be a mistake to assume this is happening. The reality is that families need to play an active role in knowing the provider team as well as lending a hand to integrate healthcare information. This is why we created the Healthcare Team Mind Map. (download PDF copy of mind map here)
The Healthcare Team Mind Map offers families a one-page roster of providers that identifies their speciality and communication options. Once completed and annotated to as to the preferred mode of communication for each provider, the mind map empowers families in four important ways:
1. It reduces the burden and risks of not knowing the big picture. The Healthcare Team Mind Map provides everyone involved in the care of an aging parent an overview of the medical team and their role in health issues. Many times this information is fuzzy, incomplete or only known by a few.
2. It reduces the burden of caregiving handoffs. The Healthcare Team Mind Map offers a quick reference guide for other family members who want to lend a hand with healthcare appointments and other tasks. It is especially helpful for coordinating last minute change of plans.
3. It reduces the burden of integrating health information. The Healthcare Team Mind Map serves as an information hub for sending health updates to the entire team.
4. It reduces the burden of orchestrating a healthcare crisis. The Healthcare Team Mind Map becomes an invaluable resource for coordinating a response to a significant change in health.
How to use the Healthcare Team Mind Map
1. Set up the map for an aging parent, verify the connections, and identify the providers preferred mode of communication. Provide copies to other family members and ask for comments and revisions.
2. If possible, have the person who set up the mind map update it every ninety days. With each update, add or delete providers as well as reconfirm the preferred communication option.
3. Ask family members to annotate their copy of the map with the name of any special connections with a provider’s office. This could be a lab tech, nurse, or receptionist who is especially helpful in getting things done.
4. Fax or email a copy of the Healthcare Team Mind Map to all providers on the team. The document will become part of the aging parent’s medical file and indicate your interest in supporting the integration of health information. Use the same protocol for any significant change in the provider roster you feel other providers should know about.