Whether using simple techniques or complex technologies for patient engagement, physicians must consider a patient's social needs, and may need to weave more of that into care plans beyond the routine patient-physician visit, panelists said.
That's what Massachusetts General Hospital's patient advisory council tries to do, Judge says. Patients are asked "How do you define health and wellness; what is your goal?" he says. Often, the answer is not straightforward, he says: "It's not my blood pressure, it's the kid who may be on drugs, the boss. That's a big lesson for us."
Rebecca Onie, co-founder of Health Leads and a winner of a MacArthur Foundation genius award, has operated clinics in which physicians not only prescribe drugs for patients but also advise patients what kind of food they should eat, or suggest they raise the thermostat in the home.
"Every day we have patients who come into the clinic with asthma exacerbation, but I know the real issue with the patients there is no food at home," Onie said at the Connected Health Symposium. "The other issue is they are living in substandard apartments filled with asthma triggers."
"The realities of my patients' lives are outside the four walls of the clinic," she says. That's a lesson for all healthcare providers.