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Treating Patient as Partner

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 13, 2011
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Henry W. Eisenberg, MD
Director, Health & Wellness Services, Cleveland State University

In dealing with patients, if you command them or browbeat them, you are going to lose the patient. They aren’t going to come back. They need a careful explanation. The better approach is behavior modification—diet and exercise. To get real buy-in and acceptance from the patients requires a better understanding of what the goals are than most doctors have time to explain. It is rather discouraging. On the other hand, when you see patients who are motivated to stop smoking or lose weight and they achieve goals, that is very gratifying, even when you realize you’re only reaching a fraction of the people who could benefit a lot more.

From my experience, it’s more about trying to not so much sell as convince by the use of motivational interviewing technique to get patients to see the light, to see the buy-in, about what they are going to gain from treating their high blood pressure, and weight loss, and smoking cessation, and exercise programs—all the things that we know work and are relatively safe and simple to do.

Having patients agree to have a colonoscopy as a preventive procedure is one thing. I can explain it to them and most people will go ahead and do that. But to change these lifetime behaviors is much more difficult.

Sam J.W. Romeo, MD, MBA
Founding partner, Tower Health & Wellness Center, Turlock, CA
I’m not surprised at all [by the survey results]. It’s typical of what has happened in the past 40 years with the destruction of primary care. The lack of continuity in episodic care has redirected healthcare to lose the continuity component.
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1 comments on "Treating Patient as Partner"


Vince Crilly (10/19/2011 at 5:06 PM)
Dear Staff Member, I'm a "Health Care Advocate" doing "pro-bono" community work to "help" educate members of my senior population on how to "Become Partners" in Health Care Delivery. I'm trying to get a "copy" of the lead article, "Engaging The Patient", dated Oct 13th by Joe Cantlupe in your magazine. My "printer" has failed, so I'm in need of a "hard" copy. Is there anything you can do for me? With much gratitude, Sincerely, Vince Crilly 7777 Bodega Ave, Apt D-5 Sebastopol, CA. 95472 (707) 829-5009