From dependence to freedom – PKB and Delphi Medical
Established in 2007, Delphi Medical employs over 60 doctors, nurses, and supporting staff. The organisation provides drug and alcohol clinical services to communities across Lancashire, Sefton and to two prisons in the North West of England.
Delphi Medical is a leading independent provider of clinical services for substance misuse patients and the first provider of its type in the UK to put patients in control of their own medical records.
Delphi has been offering Patients Know Best (PKB) to clients since 2014 and now has plans to roll out PKB to 200+ patients a year in its new detox clinic based in Chorley, Lancashire.
Opened in February 2016, Delphi’s new 12-bed detox clinic offers a range of intensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and serves patients in the North West and North East of the UK – and wider afield.
Each patient stays in the clinic for around two weeks and is given a PKB account on arrival. The account becomes the patient’s main care record and primary set of medical notes – itself an important step in treating a patient’s condition as Delphi’s co-founder Dr John Richmond explains:
“People often hide their addictions so the simple act of receiving their own medical record and, if they want to, sharing it with their families can be a real release for them. Opening up to their loved ones and gaining trust in return can be a major step on the road to recovery as it helps patients feel in control of their lives.”
The nature of a drug or alcohol addiction means that people are often seen by multiple agencies both inside and outside of the NHS such as mental health services, social services, probation and (sometimes) the police. This often means they receive fragmented care.
Now, once a patient leaves Delphi’s specialist unit, they can share their medical notes with anyone who needs to see them.
“Very often when patients leave a specialist unit their notes don’t travel with them,” says John. “This means that people outside can struggle to find out what treatments a patient may have received. With Patients Know Best, the individual leaves with a full set of notes that they can share with others – helping them to receive continuous and improved care.”
Whilst John sees a range of immediate benefits to adopting a patient-controlled records approach, he also believes there are a number of long term benefits too – such as re-balancing and improving the doctor-patient relationship.
“Using Patients Know Best helps the health professional think more carefully about how their notes might be interpreted by a patient – and that’s why I think it’s such a great idea. Instead of the patient being an object of care, they become a participant in their care – that can have a dramatic impact on how well a patient recovers.”
John sees that in many cases, substance misuse patients feel stigmatized and judged by wider society – a situation which can send their lives spiralling out of control. He believes that taking control of their medical records can mark an important turning point in a patient’s overall recovery and wellbeing.
“Our patients are particularly disempowered. They’re often perceived as immoral rather than ill, and that has a direct impact on their self-esteem and their recovery. By giving them their medical notes and involving them in their care, patients understand that they have an illness – just like any other. This is vital in helping them reframe any negative thoughts they might have about themselves.”
For Delphi, putting people in control of their medical records also puts them at least in part, in control of their life. It shows them that they can make decisions and that those decisions have consequences. John says:
“We want to get to the stage where we have a dialogue with our patients through Patients Know Best – that’s our ultimate aim. We want them to ask questions and interact with us, because when that happens, it means they are taking an active role in their lives and are on the journey from dependence to freedom.”