Treating the Whole Cancer Patient

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the focus becomes what needs to be done in order to eliminate the cancer and keep it from returning. All emphasis is placed on the tests needed and course of treatment that needs to be followed in order to treat the body. But, what is most often lost in the determination of what may be the best course of treatment for the patient is the mental trauma that a cancer diagnosis has on an individual and all of those people in the patient’s entire family, work and social spheres.

If a patient is interacting with someone who is focused on the “patient experience and physician engagement”, the outcome for both the patient and the medical professionals with whom they are interacting will be advanced to a level not previously seen in modern times.Barbara Jacoby

With this in mind, I have advocated that every cancer patient includes on their medical team a professional that can provide them with support and direction and assistance in dealing with the mental aspects of their journey. In addition, I have also provided information about finding some support for their caregivers and other family members including the children who are in their households. However, unless patients are advocating for themselves, the likelihood of them receiving any help or assistance or guidance from members of their medical teams is highly unlikely since these professionals are focused in their work on dealing with the cancer and how best to treat that physical aspect of the patient only.

Therefore, I must say that I was extremely interested in pursuing my research into a field that I had not encountered in the past when I connected on social media with Scott LePor, D.O., Medical Director of Patient Experience and Physician Engagement at Gordon Hospital in Calhoun, Georgia. Since I had no idea what a “D.O.” degree meant, I searched for information about what a “Doctor of Osteopathy” is and found this definition:

“Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or Dos, are fully licensed physicians who practice in all areas of medicine. Emphasizing a whole-person approach to treatment and care, Dos are trained to listen and partner with their patients to help them get healthy and stay well.”

Needless to say, since my focus has also been on the doctor/patient relationship and how to improve such relationships, I was also pleased to find that someone actually was already involved in this aspect of treatment as described in his title that focused on patient experience and physician engagement. With that in mind, I opened a dialogue with him to learn more about his work so that I can share the possibilities with others in future postings.

Coincidentally, I just came across an article titled “Texas Clinics Busting Traditional Silos of Mental and Physical Health Care” that discusses how efforts to provide integrated care are spreading, especially in public health clinics. These silos were developed partly out of the realization that untreated mental health negatively affects patients’ physical health resulting in greater costs to the systems and how reducing costly emergency room visits is also driving this trend.

Perhaps it is time to look at these models that have been developed over the last decade and see how they can be incorporated into something similar for the “traditional” medical centers and medical practices that depend upon shared services at all levels. If a patient is interacting with someone who is focused on the “patient experience and physician engagement”, the outcome for both the patient and the medical professionals with whom they are interacting will be advanced to a level not previously seen in modern times. This might just be the way to bring back the medical experiences of the past when a patient felt that the doctor was listening to them and treating them as a person and not just their disease.

Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.