Patient’s Perspective Key to Preventive Health Care

Guest post by Anup Kanodia, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine, The Ohio State University

Anup Kanodia

Consider the top two causes of death in the United States, heart disease and malignant neoplasm (cancer). These surpass all other common causes of death combined. It seems that the prevention of these diseases should be prioritized. General prevention of such rampant conditions is difficult for large populations since so many factors can be involved such as genetics, physical exercise or mental outlook. However, person by person lifestyle choices are known to be huge factors in the risk equation and can be altered to significantly lower each person’s relative risk.

The question then becomes, “How exactly can this technique become personalized?” Furthermore, “How can I, as a physician, incentivize a patient to accommodate these new lifestyle choices?”

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When a patient comes into my office, I find an opportunity to ask that person, “What is it you like to do?” Or, “What are you passionate about in life?” Whether it is a hobby, their family, their religion, or caring for their pet, it makes no difference as long as there is something. It is important to make a connection between this activity and the patient’s happiness by asking them if one leads to the other. Inevitably, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” This allows me to recommend to him/her a few preventive lifestyle decisions that will allow that patient to improve their chances of avoiding health circumstances, which could hinder their ability to live their passion and, with better health, will allow them to enjoy their passion more fully.

This leaps away from the common method of doctors using scare tactics to make their patients fear getting sick. This technique succeeds for two very intriguing reasons: It turns what would usually be perceived as having a negative undertone to something that inspires a positive implication for the patient; and, it also makes the treatment more about the patient and less about health in general. Instead of me, an arbitrary doctor, telling a patient that he/she should be living a certain way as a means of prevention because I say so and I know what’s best for him/her, I am giving the patient insight into how they can live an improved life. I am making the healthcare process about them and not about me, which causes the patient to positively react to my advice and proactively act upon that advice.

The beauty of this methodology is that it is very personalized in that different people will have different preventive methods to reach different happiness goals. The eventual objective for this ideology from my perspective is to set up preventive-specific clinics on their own, such as a stress or exercise clinics, so that people may go to whatever clinic accommodates the personal lifestyle choice that they need help with. 

Is conventional medicine ignoring you?

Dr. Anup Kanodia is also a member of the Center for Personalized Health Care at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

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