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Patient Engagement: How Empathy Can Empower Your Patients

In my recent post on KevinMD, “Deeply Connect and Engage Your Patients With Empathy,” I write about how empathy is essential to help empower our patients: “It is with empathy that we can engage and empower our patients.”

Doctors and nurses are leaders in health care.

Being a great leader means having a clear vision, mission or goal. It means being committed, and knowing how to listen and communicate, but it involves much more. It’s about having heart, empathy, and an uplifting spirit.

I value and respect a well written post by Thomas Goetz, author of The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine recently published on KevinMD, “How can doctors successfully engage their patients?” Goetz writes about “Five things they should seek to give every patient, strategies to tap the most underutilized resource in medicine, their patient,” however I feel the most critical ingredient is missing, empathy.


It is with empathy that we can engage and empower our patients. With empathy and heart we can help our patients feel good, valued and respected. Empathy allows us to engage and empower our patients to take charge of their health and well-being. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

Personalizing Your Health: An Interview With Thomas Goetz

Thomas GoetzAs an invited media guest at Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2010 symposium earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing presenter Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor of Wired Magazine and author of the new book, The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine.

Thomas writes about science, health, and medicine and believes that engaging people in their health and involving them as participants and decision makers leads to improving their behavior and their health outcomes. He knows there’s a technology emergence of cheaper, better tools that have the ability to offer people a way “in” — from self-tracking gadgets to online disease communities and beyond. Thomas is intrigued by the confluence of ideas and technology that make it an opportune time in healthcare.

The Decision TreeThe Decision Tree is based on the premise that our health doesn’t happen all at once, but that it’s a consequence of years of choices — some large, some small, some wise, some poor. A decision tree, therefore, is a “device” that can help make it more obvious that these decisions are something we are actually choosing — a way to externalize the choices that we otherwise make without much thought. 

Maria: As executive editor of Wired Magazine, what brought you to write a book about consumer health?

Thomas: I come from a family of healthcare providers — my father is a doctor, my mother is a nurse — so it’s always been a topic area I’ve been comfortable with. A few years ago I felt that I had more to add, and wanted to get more specific in my training, so I got my masters in public health at UC Berkeley. That led me to recognize all sorts of commonalities between the worlds of information technology and public health. At the same time, technologists in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have recognized that healthcare is one of the last industries untouched, in many senses, by the IT revolution. It’s happening now, very quickly, and I wanted to be among the first to not only cover the business, but to cover the way these companies and services will change and improve our lives. Read more »

How Doctors Think Vs. How Patients Think

How Doctors ThinkIf you want to see the difference between how doctors and patients think, read Jerome Groopman’s “How Doctors Think” and Thomas Goetz’s “The Decision Tree.” The contrast is striking.

“How Doctors Think,” while offering a comprehensive review of the cognitive missteps made by physicians, is terminally physician-centric in its analysis of the relationship we share with patients. ”The Decision Tree,” while offering a novel blueprint for self-reliance in health, seems almost sheepish in its recognition that physicians are even really that important. The muted physician cameos of “The Decision Tree” stand in stark contrast to Groopman’s Harvard-trained masters of the universe. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

A “Decision Tree” For Personalized Medicine

ImagesWhat’s amazing is that despite the vocal movement to empower patients, no one has put together a well-referenced, readable book to help patients understand how they should use personalized medicine to influence their health — until now.

Enter The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine (Rodale 2010), something of a blueprint of patient liberation written by Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired magazine. It offers constructive narrative not only about the importance of the decisions we make but how to apply the concept of an old-fashioned decision tree in making those decisions. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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