Social Media is a place to interact and network with fellow professionals. However, it is also a place to problem solve and create dialogue between multiple disciplines. Through my twitter account, I had a chance encounter with a great community called #medpsych which is the brainchild of Dr. Anne Becker-Schutte and Dr. Susan Guirleo. What’s interesting about #medpsych is their focus on “whole-person care”.
The mission of the #medpsych community is to make the connection between physical and brain health. The connection between mental health and physical health can’t be disputed. The more interaction with this healthcare community and others, the link between social work and healthcare is becoming more and more evident.
I want to bring attention to #medpsych chat discussing how one defines value in healthcare. Members of the open #medpsych twitter community include doctors, psychologists, healthcare policy advocates, nurses, social workers, and patient advocates to name a few. As a group, they set out how to determine which healthcare services have value. These can be powerful interactions across disciplines to help practitioners and service providers to identify what working and help identify areas for more investigation. The question “What does ‘value in healthcare’ mean to you, and how can we make this more than a buzzword”? Here are some of the following answers:
"Value" is such a loaded and vague term all at the same time. Do they define it in any way? #medpsych
— Susan Giurleo (@SusanGiurleo) November 12, 2014
T1 Can I get the RIGHT care without having to get 47 different opinions and without going bankrupt? #medpsych
— Scott Strange (@Strangely_T1) November 12, 2014
My earlier attempt is 'return on investment'. Is our time and resources valuable to both professional and recipient. #medpsych
— Sean Erreger, LCSW (@StuckonSW) November 12, 2014
Q1 a few years ago @NEJM framework article on “value in health care” (outcome achieved per dollar spent) http://t.co/f4u0RFoOxS #Medpsych
— CascadiaChat (@CascadiaChat) November 12, 2014
Defining value started out about the financial value. Does the money we put into the healthcare service yield a cost saving result? As a group, we started to question whether it is not always about the fiscal value. If valuable healthcare is not about the money then what is it about? Insurance companies certainly want to demonstrate programs have “value” in terms of money. In helping make change, “throwing money at the problem” does not always work.
Value seemed to become about the quality of the interaction between the patient and the healthcare provider. This went across the entire spectrum of care and it depends on the point of view. As Scott Strange said in the chat, the provider might think “I went home fine but I might think I was better off before I came”.
This conversation about value and healthcare can easily be transferred to social work, and how you define value in your work? Clearly, the interventions we provide have value, but how to we define it? Is it measured by income generated for your program? Is it positive outcome to demonstrate to funders? Asking these purely fiscal and outcome questions are an important part of value, but we must constantly define and redefine value for both service providers and service users.
There needs more interactions across practice areas in the profession in order to better help us define and determine value. It worked for the #medpsych community, and it will work for the social work community. Let’s work together with all stakeholders to better define value in your community. If you are interested in reading the #medpsych transcript, you can read it here.
How do you believe we can better define value of the persons we care for?