Apr 7, 2014

Healthcare should focus on relationships


I joined a team focused on changing negative patient behaviors (although we pivoted by the end of the competition), and one of my teammates told this story:
"Behavioral change is really tough. You can tell people they need to eat better, exercise, stop smoking, but they keep coming back and they haven’t done any of it. Same story, patient after patient. A lot of doctors give up. They tell their patients exactly what to do, and they just don’t care. What’s the point?"
I was horrified. That’s what doctors think of patients entrusted to their care?

The next week, Dr. Zubin Damania gave a speech at the Downtown Project’s City as a Startup conference that began with a picture of Winnie-the-Pooh to illustrate patient noncompliance:
"What do I see when Winnie walks into my office? Diabetes, possible hyperthyroidism, hypertension… And I’m going to tell him to walk more, but it’s not going to work, so I’m going to put him on five different medications and send him to ten different specialists, all so he can just keep putting his paw in the honey jar!"
"The problem with healthcare," said Zubin, "is they pay you to do things to people, not to prevent disease." Zubin created Turntable Health, an innovative membership-based primary care and wellness clinic focused on helping patients achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My favorite part of this story was not that Zubin is solving a critical problem in healthcare—I’m happy someone’s doing it, but that will never be me wearing the stethoscope. The coolest part of this story was Zubin’s closing thought:
"The highest calling in the world is to be part of a team that forms deep human relationships that ripple throughout your community."

-Paige