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Physician-Patient Engagement Model Is Wide Open

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 31, 2013

Whether using simple techniques or complex technologies, physicians must consider a patient's social needs in order to engage them and elevate care, say panelists at Partners HealthCare's Connected Health Symposium.

Alicia Cole of Sherman Oaks, CA, is a survivor ofnecrotizing fasciitis—flesh-eating bacteria—that she contracted following routine surgery in 2006. She was bedridden for months and needed more surgeries to overcome her devastating ailment.

The struggle and trauma was bad enough. Yet there was something else that really troubled Cole during her hospital stay: Healthcare providers and nurses weren't calling her by her name.

"Being in the hospital for two months, it's very disconcerting to have someone refer to you, standing right there, and talking about 'Patient 25.' I'm thinking, 'You know me.' My name is Alicia. Please refer to me in that way,'" Cole says. "It dehumanizes the patient. There is a disconnect," adds Cole, who has formed a patient advocacy group, Alliance for Safety Awareness for Patients.

In East Greenwich, RI, Pat Mastors recalls a generally more positive experience when she maintained a day-and-night hospital vigil for her 26-year-old daughter who was hospitalized when suffering Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Although she ran into staffers who said, 'Sorry, that's not my job,' Mastors researched her daughter's illness and needs, and "compelled [healthcare staff] to connect."

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