IMPROVING OUTCOMES FOR PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC HEALTH NEEDS

A study from the Harvard Medical School shows people with disabilities die far more often from cancer and other treatable conditions than those who can access healthcare easily.   Data from the same senior faculty member has shown that more than 80 percent of physicians think America’s 56 million people with disabilities have far lower qualities of life than their non-disabled peers. In my view, these attitudes can become self-fulfilling.

 

Our healthcare system and the people who consult with every American about their health are often not prepared to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients, their families and society as a whole. Poor preparation that leads to great suffering, early mortality and undue cost of care that negatively impacts our society and makes it less able to compete with other (sometimes unfriendly) nations.

My long involvement with students who have attended numerous programs indicates that most health professions schools do not expose their students to how their patients live and work outside of the clinical setting. This lack of knowledge and the poor communication it causes between patients and their healthcare consultants leads to poorer outcomes for patients, hundreds of billions in added costs, and tens of millions of lost opportunities for people who can make uniquely valuable contributions to society; in the workplace; and toward solving many of the problems that threaten our national and planetary futures.

 

Contributions and creative solutions to the problems we face that will arise from the extraordinary life experiences and highly developed capacity to solve difficult problems that people who manage despite their ongoing challenges can and do offer, but only if we lower the barriers people with ongoing health concerns face in maintaining their health and well-being.

 

My unique experience of mentoring more than a thousand current and future health professionals energizes my desire to build curricula and experiential learning opportunities to help health professionals at all levels of training see how patients who are older, disabled or chronically ill function—and often struggle to function—outside of the clinical setting.

 

I’ve helped pre health and health professions students better understand the challenges people with chronic health concerns manage for more than thirty years. Many of my former volunteers report a significant impact on how they practice in various healthcare roles after having worked with me. 

 

The universities and organizations with which I am working to partner and I believe our ideas can improve patient outcomes, help people who are older, disabled and chronically ill live more independently, save a great deal of money, and give pre-health and health professions students experiences and training they often don’t get now. Just as importantly, this experiential learning will help these health professions trainees see how everything from the logistics of getting to and from health appointments to the challenges associated with maintaining social networks and engaging in society make it hard for people with chronic health needs to live independently and well.

In seeing these challenges and the innumerable ways health professionals and healthcare systems can help people get over and around them, we are convinced the students, the patients, their caregivers, or others with whom they come in contact will learn things, and have ideas, that will help them and their future patients make the world a better place than it is now for millions of older, disabled and chronically ill people and their families, friends, neighbors and the paid home health workers who are so important to many of us.

I regularly consult with, and speak for, health professions schools on how implicit and explicit bias in healthcare relative to people with chronic health needs and/or disabilities impacts our access to care, our well-being and overall outcomes. My work is focused on helping programs improve their students’ and faculties’ readiness to make healthcare more accessible to people with chronic health challenges. Here is a presentation I’ve already given. I can give interested programs access to full video and other materials to facilitate discussions on contracts to speak for, or consult with, them as desired.

 

I’m always excited to work with new training programs and healthcare systems on all of these issues. Helping you make your institution’s facilities and programs ensure the best possible outcomes for people with special needs benefits you, people managing chronic health concerns, and often your entire community as well.

 

I negotiate fees on a case-by-case basis but usually start at around $150 an hour [for remote consulting, $500 per presentation.] I will sharply reduce fees for small organizations and some governmental agencies. Experimental projects may also see me reduce fees.

 

If you want me to present or consult in person, I will charge more per hour as well as travel costs for myself and a sighted guide.

 

If you’d like more information on some of the groups I’ve collaborated with, or referees from whom you can learn more about my work, please feel free to contact me via my website.