2013 MMS Oration: Engage Patients to Transform Health Care

Moving from a provider-centric delivery system to one that engages and activates patients is key to transforming health care in the United States, said David L. Longworth, M.D.

The transition to a new paradigm of care requires many changes in practice — from working in more collaborative physician-led teams to better use of predictive analytic data by physicians to guide care decisions, said Dr. Longworth, Associate Chief of Staff for Clinical Integration Development at the Cleveland Clinic.

But the most crucial  step left for physicians is to better motive patients to stay as healthy as possible, he said.

“We have a unique opportunity as a physicians to fix what has been broken for so many years,” he said. “Patients are (now) partners with us. No longer are we delivering care to passive individuals.”

Dr. Longworth delivered the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Annual Oration, “The Imperative of Patient Engagement in the Era of Healthcare Reform and Practice Transformation”  at the organization’s 2013 Interim Meeting on Dec. 6.

The Oration is a Society tradition dating back more than 200 years, and features a physician-leader speaking on an issue pertinent to current medical practice.

Dr. Longworth said that engaged and activated patients are more likely to accrue fewer health care costs, experience fewer hospitalizations, emergency room visits and hospital readmission.

These better outcomes are quality measures that physicians can’t ignore under new value-based compensation systems, he said.

Not only must physicians engage their patients  more effectively, they must also improve their interpersonal and coaching skills.  Patients who rated their physicians as more empathetic, had better health outcomes in managing chronic disease, Dr. Longworth said.

— Erica Noonan

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