August 19, 2015 — Blog Post
Hut 1, Hut 2, Hut—Show Me Your Medication History
Clinicians have long written compelling statements on why patients should be in charge of keeping good medication histories. I wholeheartedly agree, and like to think of patients as the “captains” of their care. The thing is, we patients sometimes need help along the way—especially those with multiple chronic conditions, who may become overwhelmed from responsibility. It can be stressful trying to keeping track of medications you’ve been told to start or stop (especially when you don’t know why) and sometimes the names of the medications alone start jumbling together because they truly sound like the same thing.
Enter what Dr. Victor Montori calls the clinical “quarterback.”
The role of the quarterback is to help coordinate the patient’s care and look at the big picture. For many, this would be a PCP—but it can also be the specialist whom the patients sees most often. The quarterback directs the patient on maintaining a complete history and almost always reviews the playbook (medication list) at the top of each visit. At times, the quarterback may even coach the patient with tips on how to succeed.
As a patient, here’s what would be helpful to know from the clinical quarterback:
- Tell me specifically what sorts of things you need me to write down. Not just “everything.” Vitamins? Aspirin? Highly-caffeinated drinks? What don’t you need to know?
- Do I really need to write this down? Are there any good apps you recommend if I have a smartphone or a tablet? Bonus if the app has reminders to update it!
- Reinforce my privacy. I’ll be way more likely to open up if we establish a bluntly-stated level of trust.
- If I end up in the hospital unexpectedly, what’s our back-up game plan for making sure the right people are informed of my medication history?
With the above items in place, this should help forge some nice rapport between the patient and clinician, even if the clinician isn’t always around to be quarterback. Dr. Montori goes on to talk about the “work of being a patient” and of course there is more to get done in an appointment than just talking about medications. A good medication history can help set the right foundation, however. All around, using the healthcare system can be challenging, but let’s all make sure to collaborate as much as possible as we work together for health improvement.