What do Miley Cyrus and holistic medical care have in common? Foam fingers, bears, and twerking aside, both are at the center of a movement. Miley’s movement is more about shock and confusion than substance, but the same cannot be said for the movement to provide more effective healthcare that is sweeping the nation.
Medical-Legal partnerships are not alone in this quest. Across the country, legislators, lawyers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, and advocates for America’s poorest are realizing that there is no single, easily identifiable cause of poor health or poverty and that simple, one-dimensional solutions are ineffective.
“The Hot Spotters,” an article that appeared in The New Yorker on January 24, 2011, highlights several champions of effective healthcare.
Jeff Brenner studied the patterns of patients entering hospitals in Camden, New Jersey and found that, of the 100,000 people using medical facilities in Camden, about 1,000 people accounted for 30% of the city’s medical costs. He developed an innovative approach to healthcare by spending time with some of these high-cost patients to determine the individual causes of their health problems and then solving them by any means necessary. He worked with social workers, visited the patients at home, and even encouraged them to cook for themselves or attend Alcoholics Anonymous and church meetings. His theory is that by focusing on these patients, he can help them and the entire healthcare system.
Rushika Fernandopulle, who runs a clinic for hospital and casino employees with high medical expenses, uses “health coaches” to guide and support patients as they improve and manage their health. These coaches provide the intangible help that is often lacking in conventional medical settings. They connect with patients, gain an understanding of their lives and challenges, and encourage them on a regular basis.
It’s truly an exciting time to be part of the quest for health for our nation’s indigent population.
Check out “The Hot Spotters” at href=”http://www.camdenhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Gawande-Camden-Annals_17.pdf”>http://www.camdenhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Gawande-Camden-Annals_17.pdf