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Physicians Must Make Patients Partners in Pursuit of Health

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2011

Bestermann and other physicians at the Holston Medical Group have rearranged workdays to help patients become more involved in their care, he says. They changed visiting hours to be more flexible for patients, to get a better sense of their needs, and to learn what more they can do for themselves.

While technological improvements have helped patients, not all of them are the be-all-or-end-all to initiate patient involvement, says Roberta Schwartz, MHS, senior vice president of operations for the 864-bed Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX.

"One of the most important things is for patients to take the time to understand what is going on with their care, and recognize they have a right to get every question answered," Schwartz says.

Methodist Hospital offers free programs for weight management and diabetes that answer questions and help physicians and nurses work with patients to prepare for upcoming procedures or manage chronic conditions.

The idea, Schwartz says, is for patients to "take control" of their health.


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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1 comments on "Physicians Must Make Patients Partners in Pursuit of Health"


Michael Cylkowski (10/27/2011 at 3:43 PM)
Whoever solves the non-compliance problem may get the Nobel prize for economics. Why do we choose to do or not to do the most rational action? I think the dilemma is called 'cognitive dissonance'. We know what the right choice is but we choose to do differently. We often fail to account for the value of our choices. Who's to say that sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee and the WSJ in the early morning is less valuable to me than the benefit I might derive from a good workout? Too often we make one dimensional choices to satisfy our immediate needs. Not until you can get me to realize the value of thinking long-term do I get out of bed earlier and go for that run and then enjoy my coffee on the patio. Your article reminded me of Atul Gawande chastising us in the New Yorker about what did we expect, for so long we wanted patients to be obedient, deferential, and fearful of the doctor's ire and now we give them choices? And Barry Schwartz' book, "The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less" is an excellent study on how we can get overwhelmed by having to choose. If you've ever had an elderly loved-one discharged from the hospital, you quickly learn to ask, "Mom, did you take your meds yet?" Remind them to do it now while you wait. The case workers, discharge planners, and home health providers tell me that non-compliance in meds is one of the biggest reasons for readmits and easiest to solve by other family members calling daily.