"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others
as what he does from day to day to lead himself"
- Thomas J. Watson, Chairman and CEO of IBM (1874 - 1956)
Reasons for The Patient Promise
The impetus behind The Patient Promise is the evidence-based idea that we can make patients and society healthier by making healthcare professionals healthier.
- Research supports this idea, showing that physicians who live healthier lifestyles are more likely to encourage their patients to do the same.
- This therefore represents a novel pathway to maximizing patient health on a macro scale.
- It does not mean every clinician must be a pinnacle example of health, but that they should take small regular steps to minimize their risk of future disease.
Healthy lifestyle choices in behaviors like diet, exercise, and stress management can mitigate, if not prevent altogether, physical and economic costs that burden members of both developed and developing nations. The physician is one of the most important partners of a patient attempting to change his or her diet and exercise behaviors. But because lifestyle-associated diseases can be challenging and sensitive to confront, clinicians are often hesitant or unable to engage fully on these issues with their patients. Research has shown that there is a strong link between how a physician lives his or her life, and the willingness of that physician to ask the same of their patients. Yet, approximately 40% of physicians are overweight and 23% are obese.
We seek a novel path to maximizing the health of patient populations suffering from preventable chronic diseases by addressing clinician health in the fields of nutrition, exercise, and stress management. This movement has strong precedent: less than 4% of physicians and 8% of nurses currently smoke, which positively influences patient behavior and perspectives on adopting healthier habits. We are working to accomplish the same for obesity and co-morbidities in health professionals and patients alike.
Furthermore there is tremendous prejudice against obese patients as well as clinicians in the healthcare system, which has led to decreased care. For example, obese women are less likely to get pap smears and cancer screening due to weight discrimination, which studies have found begins affecting women when they are only 13 pounds overweight. There is even a blog devoted to cases of weight discrimination in the healthcare system: http://fathealth.wordpress.com/.
The Patient Promise aims to shift the culture of healthcare towards increased partnership and decreased stigma.