THE Medical Journal of Australia recently gave voice to the challenges of transitioning younger patients with rare and chronic diseases to adult health services.
There is an increasing body of research focusing on the effective transition of adolescents to adult care.
At the heart of the issue is the disconnect between paediatric care and adult health care providers and systems.
At a 'Transition Forum for Young People Living with Rare Disease' held at the University of Sydney in February, attendees described difficulties such as the lack of coordination among services.
There were also concerns expressed about a lack of peer support and problems associated with navigating institutions and finding the right specialists and GPs.
The successful adaptation of adolescents to adult care systems and services is important, and we should support efforts to deliver innovative, better quality health care.
Delivering a better quality health care system, improvements in care delivery and improved patient outcomes, however, require more than the successful adaptation of individuals to adult care services.
Patients and their families have high expectations of the adult health care system after their time in the paediatric system and, as MJA point out, these hopes are often dashed when they hit the adult system.
This should give pause for thought.
Paediatric care is described as child and family-centred, seamlessly multi-disciplinary and more emotionally supportive and in tune with patient needs. The paediatric care system aims to more fully take care of all of a child’s needs.
An innovative and parallel approach to improved healthcare might involve transitioning the best parts of the paediatric system to adult care. Many healthcare delivery processes require a fundamental redesign from the point of patient care up.
We require a more adaptive, intelligent and agile healthcare system – one that puts people before process and technologies. Perhaps key aspects of the paediatric care model can serve as a model for a more patient-centred and better performing adult care system.