Doctor's Journal Reveals How Patients & Physician Win in MD's Switch to MDVIP Personalized Medicine
Much has been written about the satisfaction, improved care and heightened outcomes patients experience in personalized medicine practices. This is especially true for those with chronic or acute conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes or just the pursuit of optimal health.
But what about benefits experienced by the doctors themselves? Dr. Beth Hanlon, a Salt Lake City-area internist, began keeping a journal in December 2011, soon after she joined the MDVIP personalized medicine program. As reported in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, her writings reveal significant improvements in patient outcomes – and the doctor-patient relationship.
For example, since joining MDVIP, Dr. Hanlon has been able to respond more quickly with patients when lab results return. When one patient was complaining of abdominal pain – which had been attributed to his irritable bowel syndrome – Dr. Hanlon wasn’t convinced. He came in that same day, and the doctor ordered a CT scan. The results revealed early acute pancreatitis.
“Wow! What a surprise,” she wrote. “This diagnosis often gets worse necessitating a hospital stay. But he stayed home and with attention to diet, treating his symptoms, and keeping him hydrated, he was better in a matter of a couple of days. Yeah!”
When another patient screening revealed an elevated hemoglobin A1c – often indicating high blood sugar found in diabetics – Dr. Hanlon and the 45-year-old, non-diabetic woman together reviewed her diet and decided to reduce some of her starch carbohydrate calories. Labs performed six weeks later were remarkably improved, she wrote.
“Now she has lost 8 pounds, doesn’t miss the bread and bigger pasta portions…and even has more energy!” Dr. Hanlon enthused. “With this positive result, we can lower her risk for developing diabetes in the next five years significantly.”
Dr. Hanlon wrote of the experience she shares with many of the 600 U.S. physicians who have joined MDVIP, including longer patient visits, and more interaction and personal involvement in patients’ lives. With less harried days, both doctor and patient are better served. It’s still the same doctor – just practicing a more hands-on style of medicine.
Dr. Hanlon spends more time making house calls and also visiting patients in the hospital and assisted living facilities. She’s developed closer relationships with her patients – who number below 600, compared to the 2,500 she saw before joining the program.
She wrote of the free health workshops and exercise classes she hosts and how she often answers the office phone as well as more time to consult with specialists regarding patient cases.
Like her father, a physician who carried the tell-tale black bag of the family doctor, some now call her the “Marcus Welby” of her time.
In fact, Dr. Hanlon wrote of how her newfound flexibility freed her to return home frequently to be with her ailing father, who passed away in summer 2012. She was there – reading, singing, talking and listening to him. She now brings this personal experience and warmth with her patients into her own practice.
“I have deeper relationships with patients now, so we share our sorrows and joys,” she wrote in one of her final journal entries regarding a talk with a patient about Dr. Hanlon’s father. “…This patient and I both know our relationship is deeper now. And as we discussed that fact, she confessed this personal approach was helping to motivate her to achieve her health goals.”