Physician Tips: How to make patients care about liver health

Despite the numbers showing liver disease as a significant and growing health problem, a large proportion of your patients likely know little about what the liver does or what if anything they should do to care for it.

The problem for hepatologists, gastroenterologists, and primary care physicians really is not that different than getting patients to make lifestyle changes to improve their heart, or lung health. Getting patients to lose weight, stop smoking or cut their consumption of sugar, salt, and alcohol often feels like a fools errand.

Nevertheless, increasing patient involvement in their own care remains among most significant things providers can do to improve health in their own patients as well as the larger community as a whole.

Getting patients to care requires a deeper commitment to prevention, patient engagement and care redesign, according to Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle. In a commentary in the New England Journal of Health Catalyst, an online forum for healthcare executives, clinical leaders and thought leader Dr. Kaplan outlines 7 keys to improving patient involvement in their care:

  • Understanding your patients capacity,
  • Care Road Maps,
  • Increasing patient access to information,
  • Effective use of the Patient Portal,
  • Education and shared decision-making,
  • Partnering with like-minded health organizations,
  • Coordinating the care team from medical assistants to pharmacist, and sustainability

While not significantly different than the patient-centered care model, applying Kaplan’s keys to liver patients may be more challenging particularly with regard to information and education. Lacking the massive media attention that heart disease, lung and breast cancer, few patients are aware of liver disease, and the organizations that support liver research, patients and their families.

Consequently, it may be necessary to lay the patient education groundwork before liver patients can make use of their own patient information, or use Patient Portal resources to improve their liver health. Here are a number of resources that providers can make available to their liver patients that will help them understand and care for their livers:

Fibronostics is committed to leveraging the benefits of technology to improve lives, and deliver high-quality, life-improving disease education, evaluation and monitoring. For more information contact us via email, or by phone at 1-888-552-1603.

 

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