How Patients Fears Drive Healthcare - Center For Innovation - Mayo

Transform Day 1 :: How A Weight And A Clothes Dryer Represent Healthcare

Post Written By Kelly Dano

Lights, camera, action is what should have been said on the first day of Mayo Clinic’s 2015 Transform conference. In a whirlwind of a day, an inspirational panel of speakers passed in a blur, leaving conference goers pondering a health system governed by patients. It seems like a completely novel concept, doesn’t it? Our society has drifted towards a health system that accepts doctors, government, and insurance companies dictating the care we receive. This year’s conference moderator, John Hockenberry, has an interesting take on this phenomenon and it involves a metaphor including a weight and a clothes dryer.

When a weight (a patient) is placed into a clothes dryer (our healthcare system), the dryer works for a little while, but then breaks. Fundamentally, John Hockenberry was explaining that “something about the patient is causing the health care system to break apart” and that something is the fear of the health care system itself. The fear of costs, insurance, or even speaking with their doctors has led individuals to tolerate their health problems until they have to catch up to put out a fire.

The picture of health care, that John Hockenberry painted, should be revolving around accommodating patients, because after all, there is no health care without the patient. The opening speakers of Transform 2015 illustrated just how important it is for people to drive their own health system. John Costik, a software developer from the University of Rochester, said that he never expected to be speaking to a crowd of healthcare professionals, but that is exactly where he found himself.

Out of necessity, he creating a glucose monitor to aid in the care of his four-year-old son who was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (a condition in which an individual does not produce insulin). After finding out that glucose monitors looked more like an early 2000’s pager than the latest Iphone, John gained access to the software for his son’s Dexcom G4 glucose monitor and created an open source software called Nightscout.

Nightscout allows caretakers to digitally track glucose levels to predict future glucose levels. His innovation quite possible pushed the glucose monitor market towards a digital future. Without people like John Costik, questioning the development of technology or how to make things simpler, people become resigned to what is not available to them. Of course, not everyone has the resources or knowledge to do what John did, but the future direction in health care could come from simply an idea or an idealistic mind.

Kevin Klein, a charismatic storyteller, took his health into his own hands in a different way. Kevin Klein’s right arm was left paralyzed after a motorcycle accident and after all medical avenues had been pursued, his arm was still left immobile. At some point in his treatment, Kevin had to say no more. He says that instead of thinking he had to get back to normal, he went forward to normal. For providers, it is extremely difficult to stop treating someone.

Most providers may perceive terminating treatment as a person failure if the intended goal of treatment was not met, but sometimes excessive testing and procedures can harm a patient more than treating them—if not physically, mentally. It is okay for patients to refuse care, especially if they view it as unnecessary. Excessive treatment taxes the system as well as patients.

John Costik and Kevin Klein were only two speakers that were not afraid to change the outcome of their health care experiences. The realization that people can take their health care into their own hands can empower many. The more people that can be like John Costik and Kevin Klein can fix the metaphorical system that John Hockenberry proposed

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