LK 102Border defying medical collaboration
Doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of a successful surgical journey. It is built on confidence, mutual understanding and of course, communication. It is about building a relationship that is truly a partnership.
We have looked at existing and secure technologies that patients use in their everyday lives to make this collaboration work for everyone. We have been utilizing networking platforms in an attempt to monitor our intestine transplant patients from a distance. We can ‘keep an eye’ on them using encrypted teleconference settings which can often be tools such as Skype, saving time and money for both sides by avoiding unnecessary commuting and utilization of office space. At the same time we achieve instant communication and therefore make a diagnosis on the spot, without wasting precious, detrimental time. In our specialist area we rely on instant, honest and open communication. That can be the difference between life and death. Data exchange is kept to the minimum required, but patient safety remains at the maximum.
At Oxford, which is one of the world’s leading intestinal transplant centres we have even changed our technique and protocol in order to enhance and support distant, patient led monitoring: New surgical techniques have been developed to greater empower the patients. We are using transplanted skin, a visible organ, embedded in a composite graft, as a dynamic canvas that can foretell a rejection in our bowel transplant patients. Now the patients look at the skin on their arm to start predicting what is happening. They then take the initiative to send us a photo in case the transplanted skin doesn’t look optimal, and get instant medical review. Patients take their care in their hands by utilizing the skin flap- an educational tool that enables self-management.
On the other hand, there are still unexplored areas in medicine and this is evident by the diverse, sometimes contradictory management seen in different departments. Surgeons thrive on evidence. In our specialist area there is an absence of unequivocal evidence mandates. Always having patient care in mind, we developed close, international, collaborations between experts in an attempt to decipher medical enigmas. Sometimes it is harder to develop an inclusive collaborative approach with doctors as it is with doctors and patients.
We, my mentoring teacher and myself, started working at the same department a few years ago, but now that we work in different countries, different continents, yet we still collaborate closely on challenging patients. Through the development of our own unique doctor and patient inclusive process we are able to take advantage of exchanging data and photos of the affected area, which means we can establish a diagnosis and define a therapeutic concept almost instantaneously. Always with the patients’ consent and always with the patients’ direct involvement in their treatment. We have built a model of care from the ground up that is based on that absolute premise of trust, relationships and a desire for everyone to share information without barriers or boundaries. Despite working thousands of miles away, we decide on the best possible treatment, which is the key to avoid a life-threatening situation. And Everyone is Included.
Our network keeps expanding. From an isolated mentor mentee relationship, we are now consulting other centres in other parts of the world as well in an attempt to give answers to daily challenges that defy borders.