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Are You an Enabler?

I was talking to a doctor today about (what else?) digital patient education. The doctor was saying that digital patient education is a great way to engage patients before their appointments. He mentioned that it gave him a good vehicle to talk directly to his patients on his variety of services- and how they can help their patients. Patients were asking better questions, not giving him diagnoses. It was a lovely conversation.

Until he said, “But our patients prefer to watch Spongebob.” Being the salesperson that I am, I countered that sure patients like Spongebob, but they like to be healthy more. During the 30 minutes they are in your waiting room, they can most likely survive without Spongebob. We then discussed not only does Spongebob make you less intelligent (proved fact-, but all of the commercials are also destructive to a healthy lifestyle- juice boxes, frozen foods, sugary cereals, candy, video games, etc.

It got me thinking about health professionals, and this doctor specifically. Are we enabling our patients to live an unhealthy lifestyle? While it is true that you are not with your patients more than a few hours a year and many want to escape from their woes, but shouldn’t your office be a bastion of good health? Magazines should focus on healthy recipes, diet, exercise, disease prevention, and the like. Your TV should have digital patient education that helps the patient navigate their health, their health system, and your office. The charts and posters on the walls should be informative and promote lifestyle changes, not pharmaceuticals.

You are the professional, you need the ability to diagnose, treat and track patient progress without their suggestions of the drug of choice advertised in your office. You need to tell the patients the truth- without severe changes in their diet, most will be obese. Obesity will lead to a host of health problems including diabetes. And you need to tell them in the only way they are used to receiving information- digitally.

Don’t worry if a patient doesn’t want to watch or read your health and wellness information, they will surf the internet, Facebook, tweet, or play a game on their phone. You need to lead the horse to water, hopefully they will drink on their own.

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