QUESTION: There is so much talk about patient-centered care now that the issue often feels less like a movement than a collective talking point. We asked some of our favorite bloggers, entrepreneurs, clinicians and thought leaders where they saw the line between rhetoric and action. We will feature their answers all week.
Alexandra Drane, President and Co-Founder of Eliza- Nobody wants to be a patient. Think of all the negative connotations of that word – sickness, stats on a brown clipboard, red tape. We’re all people first, right? People who love living life. So if we don’t get to you until you’ve become a patient, then we as a system haven’t done our job at getting you engaged in being the healthiest and happiest you can be.
It’s no easy task. Based on our experience talking to thousands of people every day about their health, we’ve learned that behavior change is complex, and that looking at health in isolation of life (which, by definition puts the patient at the center) ignores real, messy factors – things like consuming debt, a bad marriage, a stressful job, and even a bad sex life. We call these things The Unmentionables.
A few months ago, we did a bit of research to measure how well the healthcare system is dealing with these Unmentionables in the eyes of the people they serve. What we found is that a lot of people think the healthcare system is missing the mark. We call the difference between the life factors that people care about and the level of support they say they’re getting on these issues from the healthcare system the Ostrich Index. That’s right –in some ways, we have our collective heads in the sand.
An astonishing 94% of people we surveyed reported dealing with at least one of the following issues: money concerns, social conflicts, relationship conflicts, caregiving, job stress, depression, trouble sleeping, bad sex life, getting enough exercise or diet issues. And of the named issues, people placed the greatest importance on things like job stress, caregiver stress and money concerns, followed closely by unhealthy sex life and relationship issues. Not surprisingly, as the number of issues a person is dealing with increases, their self-reported general health ranking went down.
We know that most people would in fact like to keep up with their preventive screenings – it’s just that they’re spending all their time taking their elderly mother to doctor appointments instead. They want to stay on their medication, but are having trouble affording it. Acknowledging these very real challenges would go a long way in making services and support more patient-centric. Or shall we say, more person-centric.
We’ll be sharing more of our learnings around this intersection of health, productivity, and real life – and we challenge everyone who is building patient-centric tools and environments to consider these findings as a sort of litmus test into whether or not we’re really putting people – including the things that fire them up and the things that are bringing them down – at the center.
About Alexandra Drane
Alexandra Drane has devoted her career to inspiring people to lead healthier, happier and more engaged lives through the use of innovative technology. Alex is currently president and co-founder of Eliza Corporation, a leading provider of integrated healthcare communication strategies and one of Entrepreneur magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies” (2009). The company’s intelligent, tailored interactions—including automated calls powered by a patented speech recognition engine, rich web and multi-modal delivery platform and proprietary sophisticated data analytics—make health and healthcare information more accessible, more actionable and more engaging.