Building Stronger Relationships of Care

Christy Calhoun, Senior Vice President, Consumer Health Experience

Editor’s note: To mark Health Literacy Month this October, we are sharing thoughts and expertise from Healthwise Insiders.

Health is personal, and my work leading the content development team at Healthwise is deeply passionate and purposeful. I listen to patient perspectives from a range of sources. Yet I have gotten especially close with one patient in particular in recent years—my father. Dad is a smart, well-connected man who’s a hard worker with a kind heart. But in recent years, he’s faced a major heart surgery, atrial fibrillation, ablations, a hip surgery, and many new medicines. Through it all, the relationships with his doctors, nurses, and care team have been critical to his emotional well-being and overall health. I was with him at discharge from his heart surgery. Together we reviewed his patient education, asked questions, received helpful information, and were grateful for the care he received.

Throughout Health Literacy Month, I’ve elicited many “day in the life” stories, as told by clinicians who are friends and colleagues. I’ve heard accounts of successful patient outcomes, and I have sensed the positive feeling that clinicians have when they’ve helped a patient at a personal level. I’ve also heard clinicians’ feelings of frustration that they don’t have enough hours in the day to meet all expectations—to see more patients, meet quality metrics, learn the EMR, educate patients, and document that education was given. As we know, the complexity that clinicians live with today is at a heightened state.

I am encouraged when I hear that Healthwise patient education helps clinicians provide better care and save time. We help clinicians extend their care and patient education beyond the four walls of the clinic. I hear stories of clinicians using Healthwise tools to support patients in decision making, pre-visit prep, behavior change, and overall health management. And I am reminded that our patient education can help make life easier for clinicians, build stronger relationships of care, and help patients feel more empowered to make better decisions, step-by-step.

Through my experience with Dad and his care team, and by talking with other patients about their experiences, I try to understand what it’s like to “walk in their shoes.” Like many of my colleagues at Healthwise, I try to understand the fears, concerns, and goals that patients have, so that our health information can be there to support them, as clinicians would expect.

At Healthwise, we aspire to bring empathy—for both the clinician and the patient—to every piece of health information we develop. From videos to decision aids, we actively seek out and incorporate user and clinician input to guide our content development choices. We are intentional about understanding what patients are going through in their health journey, and learning what we can do to help clinicians save time and meet patient needs. We develop content that’s clear and personal and that makes change seem possible. And as a result, we are better able to strengthen relationships of care and deliver on our mission of helping people make better health decisions.