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The role of medical secretaries and healthcare assistants (HA) in the context of autoimmune liver diseases
Opportunities and possibilities of optimising care for patients and supporting physicians
Liver diseases caused by an autoimmune process are lifelong conditions for patients. In contrast to other liver diseases such as viral hepatitis, autoimmune liver diseases are rare.
Patients with rare autoimmune liver diseases (RALD) require lifelong medical interventions and monitoring of their conditions.
Often, however, the liver disease itself is not the only thing that needs to be treated, but also the symptoms associated with it, which are common in liver diseases. These include itching, fatigue and gastrointestinal complaints in particular.
In 2019, Kautz5 participated in several professional training events for healthcare assistants on the subject of RALD (rare autoimmune liver diseases). This was done primarily to discuss the care situation from the patients’ perspective and the involvement of HA in providing day-to-day care with the attendees.
It quickly became clear that nowadays, the tasks and requirements of medical secretaries and healthcare assistants go far beyond simply coordinating appointments and assisting physicians.
Medical secretaries and healthcare assistants often act as additional contacts for patients in the daily routine of practices and clinics. They are often called upon to answer patients’ questions about diseases and therapy, listen to worries and fears and also give advice on alleviating symptoms.
Medical secretaries and healthcare assistants are thus caught between the need to legitimise their actions, the desire to support patients in a targeted manner and the lack of training programmes and capacities in everyday life.
How can the competences of medical secretaries and healthcare assistants be systematically integrated into the daily care routine? Should there be a recognised professional qualification in the area of RALD? What would be the benefits for all parties concerned? What financial and organisational hurdles are there?
As part of a follow-up, Kautz5 gUG explored these questions in several groups of experts (HA, patients, physicians). You can find a summary of the key points and perspectives in the special issue of Zeitschrift für Gastroenterologie (Journal of Gastroenterology) .
Our aim is to seize the opportunities presented by the greater involvement of HA in the care of patients with RALD and advance them at both the structural and the regulatory level.