Over the past 6 months, The CarePortMD model has demonstrated success in reducing emergency department visits, improving patient engagement and very likely will show improved outcomes at reduced cost. But there was one observation that appears to be a key to truly maximizing patient engagement and the impact of this program at population health scale. Patients crave attention– seemingly more than technology and perhaps even more than free care or free medicine.
“E.M.”, a 72-year-old widowed patient of a large medical practice was enrolled in the CarePortMD RMPT program. She suffered from uncontrolled hypertension and was constantly complaining that she felt like nobody cared for her and doctors never took the time to listen to her. During the first week of her enrollment, CarePortMD care specialist, Christina, engaged her as she trained her on use of her monitoring equipment. Over the week, she had several abnormal readings that required outreach and occasional involvement of the medical team, which was coordinated. During those touch points, Christina listened to stories about E.M.’s cat, Fluffy, grandchildren, her deceased husband, and a list of bad experiences she has had with doctors over years of medical concerns. There were a range of emotions expressed along with intermittent sobbing. Christina spent over 2 hours that week holding E.M.’s hand, while getting her accustomed to the monitoring process, mostly as a someone who had time to listen. “E.M.”, who is now compliant with well-controlled blood pressure, recently told her doctors that she has never felt so happy about her care.
Healthcare is a Human Problem
The value of personal attention in healthcare cannot be overstated. It requires empathy, patience and time- none of which can be replaced with technology or lean process. When appropriated, it can overcome many of the obstacles currently encountered in efforts spent on delivery of effective healthcare: lack of engagement, misunderstanding, non-compliance, non-adherence.
Generally speaking, as healthcare providers, we need to find ways to cultivate relationships that go way beyond treating patients as simple consumers. Our “product” is not prescriptions. It is trust, comfort, relief, behavior change, education and hope. President Theodore Roosevelt is attributed with saying “Nobody cares how much you know unless they know how much you care.” This could not be more the case when it comes to healthcare.
Ashok Subramanian, MD, CEO/CMO