The importance of records

Cicero was the first politician to leave us a record of everything he said in public. This is why we remember this Roman politician above all his peers (except Julius Caesar, whose actions speak louder than words). Where we lack a record, we forget the politician.

And so it is in medicine. If the patient receives has a record of what was discussed in an appointment, they remember it, if not, they do not. Because time with a clinician is so expensive and limited, and because the treatments decided on during this time are also expensive and limited, it is a mystery why so few patients get so few records. It is also a tragedy. No society can afford this waste.

Especially when technology makes records so cheap and easy. Cicero was first to record because his slaves were first to use shorthand. One of them, Tiro, is credited with inventing shorthand, including the ampersand. 2.000 years later, we have much better technology.

Giving patients a copy of clinic letters is a good start. The UK government mandated that NHS Trusts provide copies to all patients by 2004, and although all of them have plans and processes in place, too few patients actually get these letters. This is why many customers like Patients Know Best as they can deliver clinic letters directly to the patient, as well as to their carers (such as family relatives) and any other clinicians (such as family physicians) who the patient has chosen. The letters are in the patient’s record, available whenever and wherever they are needed. We regularly hear stories from our patients showing letters on their phones to their clinicians in emergency departments.

But letters take too long to write and send out because usually there is a delay from the clinician dictating to the clinician authorising the transcription.

Which is why our care plans feature is so powerful. As part of setting up a clinical team as a PKB customer, we help the clinicians to create templates of frequently used care plans. Each template focuses on common disease and stage that the team deals with, and includes all the associated information a patient needs to know. This can include links to national disease charity web sites, leaflets with further information, and PDFs with translations into multiple languages.

Once the template is created, the clinician can customise it with each patient in clinic in under a minute. As soon as the clinician clicks the save button, the patient and their carers are notified, and the personalised care plan is available as an instant record of what was decided during the clinic appointment.

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