Dr. Gretchen Collins
Wisconsin Fertility Institute
One of the reasons why our role at WFI is so meaningful has to do with the freedom we have to extend ourselves and our resources based upon the aspect of patient care that is needed most.
How have you seen the needs of patients evolve over the last few years? Have you / your clinic made changes to meet those needs?
We serve patients when they are at their most vulnerable, and in a very new capacity, as most individuals who enter our clinic doors do not anticipate that their path to parenthood would involve seeing a fertility specialist. Recognizing this point of view while providing hope for the future is a delicate balance.
The past few years have seen an increase in patients seeking treatment with donor eggs and donor sperm, and an overall rise in third party reproduction, which is a type of fertility treatment that involves a ‘third party’ – such as an egg donor, sperm donor or embryo donation - to assist patients in becoming parents.
Keeping our finger on the pulse of what is necessary and what provides value to our patients is critical for us, as mainstream media and marketing advertisements do not always convey an accurate scope of treatment within the realm of third-party reproduction. To provide our patients with the most relevant information and services, we employ a department of donor specialists whose job is to guide our patients through the different options available based upon timeline, medical needs, and financial budgets. This includes access to frozen donor eggs and sperm, donated embryos, and trusted contacts to establish matches for patients wishing to use gestational carriers.
‘Whole patient care’ encompasses: mental & emotional health, lifestyle considerations, patient-centric operations, and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Which of these aspects of patient care resonates with you most and why?
Whole patient care is something different depending on the type of care and where the patient is receiving it. Independently owned IVF clinics are becoming a thing of the past, as many smaller clinics have merged with larger organizations over the last 5 years. As a result, treatment protocols are streamlined, and IVF cycles are manufactured according to corporate schedules and policies. At WFI, if your ovaries are working, we are working.
One of the reasons why our role at WFI is so meaningful has to do with the freedom we have to extend ourselves and our resources based upon the aspect of patient care that is needed most. For some patients, it's staying in touch over text message while they administer their first injections. For others, its coordinating paperwork, and letters with insurance providers to ensure coverage. Some patients don’t have access to computers, and we arrange for visits to our library so they can complete forms onsite. Especially during this time of a world pandemic, providing care that treats the emotional aspects of infertility along with the physical is increasingly important. Having access to the staff and physicians for questions and extra comfort care can help mitigate some of the increased anxiety and isolation we are seeing among infertility patients.
The whole of ‘whole patient care’ is contingent upon identifying a need and meeting it. Advances in medicine allow us to meet needs for the majority of patients that come to our clinic but providing care in the form of nuanced small details makes our role as providers comprehensive and complete.