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Physician-Patient Engagement Model Is Wide Open

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 31, 2013

"They stepped up their game, they really worked as a team, I saw this happen many times, " Mastors says. Once, a physician in leadership helped push her daughter's gurney, to the surprise of other staff. "A technician holding up the rear of the gurney said, 'Oh, my God, I've never seen the chief of radiology move a patient before,'' Mastors recalls, seemingly stunned by hospital politics.

Mastors also learned the importance of patient or family involvement in care when her father died seven years earlier from complications following a surgery that, she says, "made no sense to me." She created and is CEO of Pear Health LLC, maker of a patient engagement and empowerment tool.

Patients Can Help Shape Care Plans

Patient focus is something that needs to be welcomed, not discouraged, says David Judge, MD, medical director of the Ambulatory Practice of the Future at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. This program establishes a process in which there are health coaches designated for each patient, in part to free up physicians to spend more for patient care. Patients, too, are dubbed as "experts" in their care. That distinction is crucial, Judge says.

"The experience on the care team is very rewarding," he says. "It blows us away."

Despite the positive outcomes demonstrated by his program, some physicians resist patient engagement, Judge says. He notes that Massachusetts General Hospital uses a patient portal that details precisely what physicians are doing and why.

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