Patients Know Best (PKB), a healthcare management firm working on behalf of consumers, was established on the belief that individuals need to be empowered to take control of their own healthcare. As such, it provides online access to medical records and direct access to participating doctors via electronic communications. It is now turning its attentions to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.
PKB’s Lloyd Humphreys recently wrote about the plans in an article published by The Guardian on August 28. Humphreys let it be known that his company was working with Delphi Medical to ensure recovering addicts have access to their own medical records, just as their other customers do.
According to Humphreys, one of the biggest obstacles to recovery in the UK is the fragmented care individuals receive throughout the rehab process. An alcoholic may begin treatment with the NHS for example, but then also seek treatment from a professional counsellor or a specialist. Then there are the therapists who provide psychotherapeutic treatments over several weeks or months.
Without interaction between the various treatment professionals, it is easy for a recovering addict to get lost in the shuffle. One service provider does not know what the other has done, and vice versa. This makes it difficult to develop a uniform treatment plan in which everyone works in tandem. Humphreys believes that giving addicts access to their medical records will allow them to take control of their own treatments.
Giving patients more control seems to have worked well in other areas of healthcare. The question is one of how willing are substance abusers to take control of their own treatment decisions over the long term? Until that question is answered with data, we can only speculate.
Benefits for Recovery
Assuming the joint effort succeeds as intended, we can see several reasons why it would. First and foremost is the idea of communication. Connecting service providers with substance abusers through a central, online portal opens up the channels of communication like never before. Communication is the key to success.
Let us say a substance abuser began a new psychotherapeutic treatment. He or she could provide their records to the therapist at the very first meeting. He or she could also explain where they have been, how they have been treated thus far, and how they believe certain treatments have helped or not helped. The therapist could also communicate with other treatment providers to get their feedback.
A second benefit is one of personal responsibility. Those who treat substance abusers know that a sense of personal responsibility is often lacking in the minds and hearts of their patients. Restoring that sense of responsibility is part of achieving long-term sobriety. Getting access to medical records allows the recovering addict to take ownership of his or her recovery to some extent, thereby encouraging a modicum of personal responsibility.
Finally, connecting treatment providers and recovering addicts will enable the industry to start tracking what works and what does not. By effectively analysing the data, the addiction recovery sector could get a better handle on how to treat certain types of people in certain ways. The analytical potential of Humphreys’ plan could be its most important aspect of all. It could truly change the way we treat substance abuse in the UK.
We will have to wait to see how the joint effort between PKB and Delphi Medical works out. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact us at Addiction Helper if you are struggling with drugs or alcohol. We offer a 24-hour helpline that you can call for advice and treatment referrals. Our services are free and completely confidential.
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