The Information Senses of Whole Person Care: A PatientsLikeMe.com Case Study

Robert Douglas Ferguson

Abstract


Objectives: Whole Person Care (WPC) situates the act of curing within a larger framework of healing, in which meeting psychological and social needs of patients during times of illness are also considered integral to patient outcomes and wellbeing. That is, WPC entails greater attention to how information behaviors can balance competing biological, psychological, and social dimensions of patient care within the therapeutic relationship (Hutchinson, 2011; Kaslow et al., 2007; Donadio, 2005, Mount, 2003). But what role does documentation play in patient-provider communication and meeting the biopsychosocial needs of patients via WPC? This poster visually represents a content analysis of data collected from PatientsLikeMe.com using Marchionini’s (2010) Information Sense Framework to reflect upon the role of personal health information management in WPC.

Methods: Over an 8-month period starting in September 2010, the researcher engaged in participant-observation within PLM’s Mood Disorder Community, a social networking site and research platform for patients. Grounded Theory (Charmez, 2006; Strauss and Corbin, 1987) was used to analyze site members’ virtual interactions and evaluate the subjective impact of maintaining and sharing a public personal health record (PHR) with off-website care providers.

Results: Observations confirm Information Senses is viable for interpreting the WPC functions of PHR. Site members described online PHR as effective self-management tools, by helping patients visualize, track, and understand changes in their health between visits; and enhancing the subjective quality of provider-patient relationships and communication during visits.

Conclusions: Maximizing potential benefits entails reconceptualization of medical documentation beyond diagnostic, care-coordination, and audit functions for care providers exclusively. PHR also serve communicative and reminding functions that are underexploited. Leveraging documentation to enhance the quality of communication and trust between patients and care providers, through patient-accessibility health records for example, offers a viable route towards the realization of WPC and meeting biopsychosocial needs efficiently.


Keywords


Information Senses

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ISSN: 2291-918X