26 Nov PROACTIVE PROVIDERS SAVE LIVES AND MONEY
In my private practice in the 1990s, I often would see patients for 7 to 15 minutes, three times a year, trying to inspire them and direct them in management of high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. One particular patient I remember was a mechanic working at a large defense contractor. He had diabetes, high cholesterol, and an at-risk blood pressure. Every year he would come in for his physical because it was required by his employer. I would test his blood and consistently find that his cholesterol and other numbers were not well managed. We talked about how important it was to treat these conditions. I would offer additional medications and teach him to improve his lifestyle. He always assured me that he “felt fine” and didn’t think there was anything significantly wrong. A year later nothing changed and he continued down the same path.
Then one year, he came in with a form from his employer and asked me to fill in his numbers to then send back to his employer. Upon completing the form and handing it back to him, he said he had a new incentive program at work and was rewarded if his numbers met the goal. I asked him if he was willing to take additional medications and he said he would do “whatever it takes”. Low and behold, he saw a dietician, took additional medicine, and got his numbers to goal. Upon receiving the reward from his employer, he and his wife used that money to take a trip in their RV to the Pacific Northwest.
This continued for the next several years with him maintaining and managing his numbers to goal because his employer would reward him for his behavior. After he retired he was no longer incentivized, lost focus on his numbers, and had a significant heart attack several years later. I believe we prevented this for years through his engagement.
It was through interactions like this that it became clear to me that seeing a patient for 7 to 15 minutes, three times a year was only a portion of the solution. Having a partnership with employers that encourage and support employees engaging in proactive healthcare was equally important. Through this partnership, employees would win significantly.