Continuity, Relationships and Trust in Healthcare Essential to Ensure Patient Safety

Author: Thomas Dahlborg
Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Strategy at NICHQ
PIPSQC Ambassador 

While vacationing recently, I was enjoying a quiet morning in the sun reading USA TODAY when a particular headline in the Sports Section grabbed my attention:
NASCAR needs its own team of traveling doctors

I read on . . . :
"But he never got a chance to race because NASCAR parked him for medical reasons after he was seen on two separate occasions by doctors at the speedway - doctors who lacked the kind of familiarity with Hamlin that a personal care physician could provide."

"If NASCAR is going to empower a medical professional to make decisions about whether a driver can race, it should be someone the driver already has a relationship with."
"NASCAR says safety is a top priority. . . . consistent medical staff would be good . . . . The drivers need to know that, if they seek treatment, they'll receive care and guidance from a trusted doctor."
"There's a big difference in seeing a doctor for the first time and visiting your regular physician - not only a sense of familiarity but a comfort in knowing the person understands your history."

Of course I wondered . . . :

  • How these racing teams comprehend the essential need for continuity, relationship, and trust to ensure safety?
  • How racing teams understand more than many healthcare leaders and policy makers?
  • And how and what we can learn from these teams as we continue our efforts to improve the broken healthcare system?

I also recognized that the members of these racing teams are patients and families too. Both in the literal sense that they are patients of the healthcare system and members of their families . . . but also that in the context of the racing team - the driver on these teams is essentially the patient and the other team members are his/her family.

And as such (using both lenses) these patients and families recognize that the current healthcare system (both within NASCAR and in the larger context) is not providing those essential factors that best position patients for optimal health and safety, i.e., continuity, relationship, and trust. And that doing so is essential to increase patient safety.

That said, there are some healthcare leaders and policy makers who do understand how critical these factors are and who are also working to evolve the healthcare system to ensure these factors are ever-present and having an impact. In fact, I am blessed to be part of the National Quality Forum's (NQF) Patient and Family Engagement Action Team where we recognize the following like factors in optimal healthcare provision and patient safety:  


. . . and in so doing, we have developed an action pathway to ensure each patient and family is honored, preferences are understood, and that authentic partnerships between patients and families and care teams are developed to support each patients' life and health goals and to ensure patient safety.


There are significant challenges to overcome to optimize care and safety. The instilling of continuity, relationship, and trust (partnership) between patients, families and care teams is critical in this effort and we are on this path.

I am proud to be serving on the NQF Patient and Family Engagement Action Team with brilliant healthcare leaders who care, are motivated and energized by this challenge, and committed to making a difference.

How are you ensuring continuity, relationship, and trust (partnership) is ever-present throughout the healthcare system?
How are you ensuring patients and families are honored and safe?
Let's learn, share, and be impactful together . . .