When you are in need of complex care such as organ transplant, your local care team will often refer your case to a specialist. Many times that specialist is located outside the health care system where your local doctor practices. How will your care be coordinated? Will the local doctor know what’s happening with your condition, and who is responsible to tell him that information? Will the local team and specialist agree with what’s best for your treatment plans or will you end up with conflicting information from the two groups? These are all concerns for many patients who need to leave the comfort of their local care team and venture into a larger and more complex medical system for their care. Everyone in your health care circle is responsible for providing communication about you to anyone you have listed in your medical charts….including you.
Sharing Your Visit Information
Large health care organizations like Mayo Clinic know that most patients have a local team of doctors and nurses caring for them, and many patients have a long history with those doctors. It’s important to us that your care is being coordinated and continued after you leave our clinic. Our doctors, nurses and medical secretaries are experts at communicating with your home providers using secure online methods, printed letters and notes mailed to your provider, and phone calls when the information is more urgent or needs more explanation. Each time you visit Mayo Clinic, your information will be communicated to the local providers listed in your records, and also to you through your patient online services. Our team is also available for phone calls and questions from your local doctor about your care. This partnership is important – you need your local providers after your transplant visit just like you needed them before your visit to us. The local doctors care for you before your transplant visits and after your transplant surgery for periodic testing, treatments, and for anything urgent that you need between your visits to Mayo Clinic. It’s also important that they communicate with your transplant team regarding that interim care so next time you visit us, we are aware of your updated medical history.
Urgent Care for Patients
In urgent situations when you are at home, your local doctors will care for you. If they need records or advice from your transplant team, they are able to reach someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Mayo Clinic operators. Each organ group has a doctor on-call to take questions and provide local doctors with information about transplant patients. In cases when the local team isn’t comfortable with transplant-related issues, the transplant and local physicians can work together over the phone, and if the patient requires a visit to Mayo, those arrangements can be made.
Patients as Self-Advocates
Sometimes physicians may not be up to date on your current status due to missed communications or busy clinic days. This is just one reason why it’s important for patients to understand their conditions and advocate for themselves. If you are receiving conflicting information from your local and your transplant care teams, or you have questions regarding the care you are receiving, you should feel comfortable participating in the conversation. You, and often your caregiver, are the best advocates for your medical situation, and you should ask as many questions as you need to until you understand the situation. Making sure you understand your condition and having notes about your treatment plans are important steps in making sure your physicians stay on the same page about your care. We know it isn’t easy, but always attend your appointments with a notepad so you can write notes about your visit and write down your questions for your care team. Your caregiver can also be a great help with this task, and with being your advocate when you need assistance in understanding your care plans.
In medicine, just like in any complex situation, communication is key. The Mayo Clinic system is designed with the patient at the center of the system. Our primary goal is to meet your needs and those of your care team at home so that you can focus on your health and happiness. We are always working to improve methods of communication so we can more easily assist our patients and their local doctors wherever they live.
Have you witnessed great communication between your different care teams? What methods did they use to make sure everyone was up to date on your situation?