First-of-its-kind Health Care Forum Brings Together Providers, Patients

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‘Patient-centric care’ is one of those catch phrases that have little grounding in real-world patient-provider encounters. But later this month, hundreds of Connecticut health care consumers and clinicians will come together for a first-of-its-kind conference that aims to foster patient engagement in medical care.

“Better Health: Everyone’s Responsibility,” set for Sept. 17 at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, is a step in bringing patients and providers together to discuss joint decision-making in medical care – from medication management, to end-of-life care, to navigating provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the summit – open to the public – is to break down barriers between providers and the people they serve, by giving both sides a crash course in key health-care issues and effective ways of communicating.

“The most under-utilized resource in health care is the patient,” said Dave deBronkart, an international patient-engagement advocate known as “e-Patient Dave” who will be the keynote speaker at the conference. “Patients perform better when they are informed better.”

The conference comes in the wake of a study in Health Affairs that showed that patients who actively participate in decision-making with their health-care providers have better health outcomes and lower costs. Of 33,000 patients studied, researchers found that patients who did not actively participate in their health care had 8 percent to 21 percent higher costs than patients with high engagement levels.

better health logoThe conference, hosted by CT Partners for Health, a group of 40 health-care organizations convened by Qualidigm, the state’s Medicare consulting company, will feature breakout sessions on advance-care planning, patient empowerment through technology, and health-care reform. All of the sessions are geared to engaging patients to “actively assist in managing their own health care through informed choices,” said Tim Elwell, CEO of Qualidigm. “Our hope is that by providing a venue for patients and providers to interact, innovation and mutual understanding will result.”

Among the sessions is one that will focus on “motivational interviewing,” a method for improving communication between providers and patients. Thomas Broffman, assistant professor of social work at Eastern Connecticut State University, will explain and demonstrate a “new paradigm” in communicating that is intended to get patients engaged in improving their own health. In motivational interviewing, doctors ask questions such as, “Where would you like to be in two years, and how can we work together to get you there?” instead of simply giving directions to a patient to lose weight, eat healthier or make other changes.

Another session, led by Stephen P. Kiernan, author of the book “Last Rights,” will discuss informed decision-making in end-of-life care. A 2013 report on hospice utilization by Hospice Analytics identified Connecticut as having one of the lowest rates in the nation in 2011 in terms of mean days of utilizing hospice care. The session is intended to educate consumers about ways to make their end-of-life preferences known, in order to avoid unwanted stays in nursing homes or hospitals, and to discuss alternatives with providers.

Nora Duncan, director of the Connecticut AARP, and Dr. Kenneth Sacks, medical director of the Connecticut State Medical Society-IPA, will team up to outline key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Melissa Tait and Dagmara Scalise of Primacy, a digital consulting firm in Farmington that serves a number of health-care institutions, will lead a workshop on how technology is changing today’s patient experience, headlined, “From Your Home to the Waiting Room: Technology’s New Role in Healthcare.”

The conference runs from noon to 6 p.m., with a $10 registration fee to help defer costs. Participants are invited to stay for a reception and dinner, at $25 per ticket, at which healthcare strategy expert Nathan Kaufman will discuss emerging trends in healthcare. The evening ends with a performance by Frank King, known as “the cardiac comedian.”

To register for the conference, go here.




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