Kathleen Hill is a nurse practitioner with over 20 years of experience in nursing. She works at Tandigm Health, a leading population health management company that uses a coordinated model to offer patients better care for less cost.
Part of that model includes house calls. That’s where Kathleen comes in. She takes care of patients with a wide range of conditions in their homes. Each of her patients faces unique challenges. They all have different levels of support at home.
“When you go to people’s homes, you get a sense of their support system,” said Kathleen. “Some have children or spouses who take care of them, while others live alone and rely on me more. Sometimes, to make progress with a medical issue, you have to address whatever issue is most pressing to the patient first.”
Kathleen travels from home to home, regularly checking on patients to see what they need, firsthand. As a nurse practitioner, she can evaluate their condition and prescribe or adjust medications. The visits also allow Kathleen to learn what’s getting in the way of a person’s medical care. In some cases, she turns to the larger care team for help. Social workers, for example, can connect patients to resources they might not otherwise have gotten.
Building trust for better care
It’s no secret: health care is complex and difficult to understand at times. This is even more true for some of Kathleen’s elderly patients, who have not received regular health care in the past. These patients are often skeptical the first time Kathleen shows up at their door. However, Kathleen builds positive relationships over time by showing her patients she cares.
“One of my patients is a proud elderly woman with low health literacy,” Kathleen said. That means the woman had little knowledge of health information and services to make appropriate health decisions and follow treatment.
“On my first visit, I found her short of breath. I had to adjust her medications that first day. Before I could do that, I needed to know what she was taking. It took her a while for her to get comfortable with telling me.”
Now, Kathleen visits that patient every month. The same patient declines services from other visiting healthcare workers. That says something about Kathleen’s ability to overcome barriers and make a meaningful connection.
Earning her patients’ trust is a huge part of Kathleen’s job. Trust helps patients feel comfortable being honest about their health. They’re more likely to tell her when they skip medications, can’t afford them, or don’t understand how to take care of a certain condition. This information allows Kathleen to better care for them. She can provide education and practical advice, or connect patients with other resources to address their needs. She can provide the care they need.