What is really important for patients? The doctors ask

doctors, patients, total care, health care

What is really important for patients? The doctors ask

In my role with Rx Generic Medicines, I am invited to the openings of many health centers. I was recently invited to the opening of a new cancer center in northern Virginia, and I was excited to hear the center director explain that they came up with the concept of the physical structure of the building when talking to patients. That is something I had never heard before: actually talking to patients about how they wanted their attention to be provided, and then changing decisions based on comments. Dr. John Deeken, president of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, explained that they put infusion centers on the top floor of the building because patients said they wanted to enjoy the views. Originally, administrators thought that the infusion centers should be on lower floors so that patients did not have to travel very far once they entered the building, but changed their minds after receiving the opinion of the patients. Instead of having televisions that play cable news in community rooms, everyone gets their own iPad so they can see what they want instead of listening to political experts. There are no flat screens around! The attention to detail was not limited to warm color palettes and relaxing music: the patients had a voice even in the most practical aspects of the center. After hearing that patients were tired of constantly using hand sanitizers, administrators placed small sinks throughout the facility.

Next time you go to a hospital check the chairs. They are usually the worst! Not in the center I visited: a group of patients tested the chairs and chose the ones that were best to sit for long periods of time. And when I saw a spa on one of the floors, I thought I should be hallucinating, but Dr. Deeken explained that the institute offers free manicures and pedicures for patients and caregivers.

We are learning that the environment in which we provide care has a direct impact on the results. Therefore, providing comfortable chairs, soft music and works of art is important and plays an important role. When we see a spa in an oncology center, it is recognized that the caregiver’s burden, which is particularly important in cancer care, affects not only the caregiver but also the patient.

Dr. Steven S. Grubbs, Vice President of Clinical Affairs of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, believes that focusing on total patient care, and patient experience, leads to better results. He noted that two of the biggest advances in cancer care in recent years are not related to cancer drugs, but address the initial concerns of patients. “The anti-nausea medication, odanstetron, changed the trajectory of anti-cancer medications, allowing patients to avoid some of the worst side effects of anti-cancer medications and better tolerate different doses. The ability to place implantable venous access allowed more attention to be provided as outpatients. ” These developments occurred when listening to the concerns of the patients.

All this made me think and ask questions. Is this a new trend or is it just a showcase? I called my friend, Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, the CEO of Stand Up To Cancer, who explained to me. “I think society is beginning to realize that the patient’s perspective must be the hallmark of a collaborative model. At Stand Up To Cancer, we actually require that the research teams include patient advocates to ensure that research is prioritized and carried out with patients in mind.

So what does all this mean for the average patient? Obviously, not all facilities or practices adopt this “total care” approach, but some do. If you are in the process of deciding where to go for treatment (and are financially and geographically positioned to be selective), ask questions about your approach to the patient and the caregiver, the care and if they have programs or processes that would do your Treatment Easier or less stressful. Choosing a center with a patient-centered approach could have a big impact on your overall treatment experience.

I remember that during my training, many instructors often asked: “Do patients want a doctor who is excellent at diagnosing and treating diseases, or someone who is kind?” Well guess what? They are not mutually exclusive. And fortunately, it seems that we are on the cusp of a new trend in medical care that will treat the disease and take care of the person.

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