Tag Archive for: whole patient care

Is Whole Patient Care a Path to Health Equity?

As part of our Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) Path to Empowerment, whole patient support is included in the path for patients. Our advocacy program called Rx for Community Wellness focuses on culturally competent whole person healthcare that treats the whole patient in tandem with existing care while also looking at health equity issues. As we prepare to launch into another series of Wellness Rx Meditation and Wellness Rx Nutrition programs, here’s a look at the programs and resources that are already available. The intention of these resources are to improve cancer care for all patients by providing meaningful mind-body tools that maximize well-being.

Equity Rx Webinars 

Unfortunately, not every patient is starting from the same level in their healthcare. Health equity topics must be addressed to achieve equitable care for all, and the Equity Rx webinar series have provided an opportunity to address some of these issues. In the Equity Rx webinars, we pulled together a panel that included a cancer survivor, a naturopathic doctor, and a public health scientist. The panel members discussed the importance of culturally competent whole person cancer care to work toward improved cancer outcomes for all patients. Some of the topics covered in the Equity Rx webinars include: 

  • Ways that healthcare systems can better work toward whole person care
  • Solutions to help overcome trauma and lack of trust to work toward healing
  • Advice from a cancer survivor on how to work toward optimal patient care
  • The effects of stress, anxiety, and depression on physical health
  • How environmental conditions and personal experiences can impact health
  • Existing barriers to diagnosis and a patient’s experience as a Mexican American
  • Barriers to culturally competent care and how to address barrier issues
  • Factors that whole person care examines and obstacles healthcare systems   pose to patient care

Survey feedback about the Equity Rx and Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools have been extremely positive with 90.2% of survey respondents believing this program has given them a better understanding of the need for health equity. As more people become aware of health equity issues, they can also advocate on behalf of others to improve care for all patients. 

In addition, 82.7% of survey respondents agreed they are very likely to share their story with others to raise awareness about the need for equitable care after the Equity Rx program. And through the process of sharing their personal experiences, patients can not only help educate others but may also be able to work through some of the emotional load of their cancer journeys.

One survey respondent also came away from the programs with motivation to add holistic care to part of their care team.

My hematologist is pretty responsive, but I don’t have a holistic doctor, and I’d like to get one. This program definitely raised my awareness of equity issues. Sasha was great explaining her issues. Thank you!

Another survey respondent shared how the programs instilled motivation to take a more active role in their care.

I will make more of an effort to get my team members to read information that has been shared on my tests and progress.

Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource Guide

PEN recognizes the value of educational resources and in gathering input from a wide selection of people – whether they are patients, care partners, or patient advocates. In the printable and downloadable Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource Guide, whole person care is described with an explanation of why whole person care is important in improving health outcomes for all patients. Equity Rx survey highlights are also shown in easy-to-read graphics in the resource guide along with crowdsourced solutions for working toward equitable healthcare.

Is Whole Patient Care a Path to Health Equity?

Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools

Whole person care is a primary tenet of holistic medicine, and nutrition and meditation practices are two ways to incorporate holistic care. Holistic care is one way that can support patients in maintaining healthy minds and bodies. In the Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools, we created educational videos and transcripts to improve knowledge about meditation practices and nutrition to boost patient health. Meditation topics that were covered in the series include breathing, abdominal breath, chest breathing, body parts, body scan, complete breathing, joy, whole body, heart center, and breath counting. While nutrition topics covered in the series include the benefits of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, protein, and plant-based diets. 

Access to health and wellness options are vital for all patients. We at PEN hope you can take advantage of the Rx for Community Wellness program resources and also share them with others to improve their care. Additional webinars and resources will be coming soon to help patients and care partners move toward improved empowerment, care, and support for their cancer journeys.

Rx for Community Wellness and Achieving Equitable Care

Culturally competent whole person care is critical in work to reduce health inequities. The standard of care for underserved communities is not enough, treating the whole patient is crucial, in cooperation with existing care. We at Patient Empowerment Network are dedicated to working toward equitable healthcare for all, and our Rx for Community Wellness program has provided another opportunity. Here’s a look at the program, links to content and highlights from panelists and participants. PEN is grateful to our partners Triage Cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), CancerGrace and American Urological Association (AUA) for helping to raise awareness of this program.

Importance of Whole Person Care

Whole person care is the patient-centered optimal use of diverse healthcare resources to deliver the physical, behavioral, emotional, and social services required to improve care coordination, well-being, and health outcomes. Whole person care is critical for improving health outcomes because human wellness depends on coordination of multi-dimensional, multi-systemic care. For people with cancer, social, emotional, economic, and environmental conditions impact their health. 

Rx for Community Wellness focuses on conversations between at-risk populations and key health experts resulting in crowdsourced information that can help empower diverse communities and their providers. This information can also help motivate health leaders to understand issues that exist and to push for solutions to overcome them.

Whole Person Care Resources 

The Rx for Community Wellness program focuses on moving toward culturally competent whole person healthcare. Content for this program was crowdsourced from real-life experiences that provided a way for underserved patients and community partners to share their experience with whole patient care, both positive and negative with the healthcare system. In an effort to create models for culturally competent whole person care, the learning resource includes meditation and nutrition tools. These tools were created to help empower patients in optimizing their well-being and supporting them in having the best possible cancer treatment outcomes.

The Rx for Community Wellness programs have covered the following topics:

 Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools include the following resources:

A crowdsourced resource is also available:

Rx for Community Wellness Program Highlights 

The Rx for Community Wellness program has generated a wealth of information for patients and healthcare providers alike. The information has informed others about inequitable healthcare experiences while also serving to educate and empower patients with whole person care resources.

Aswita Tan-McGrory shared about how pediatric medicine has provided a roadmap to improve adult whole person care. According to Tan-McGrory, “…they definitely have cornered that market of really thinking of social determinants of health or the whole system for their pediatric patients in a way that I think adult medicine is just catching up on…because you’re working with kids, you can’t not talk to the parents, not think about what is the school like…so you’re forced to because of that environment, but that’s really a model that we should be using for all of our patients.”

 Dr. Broderick Rodell, a naturopathic doctor and wellness expert, shared advice that he’s found helpful in maintaining his own health and wellness. According to Dr. Rodell, “I do spend a large amount of time focusing on training the mind, reducing stress, educating yourself around, what can I do to eat well, nutrition, what can I do to exercise? To get my body moving, what are the various things that I can do to care for myself to the best of my abilities…”

Mexican American patient Sasha Tanori shared about her experience with inequitable healthcare. According to Sasha, “…where I come from, it’s a very like low demographic, we don’t have a whole lot of resources and stuff like that. So getting care is…it’s not the easiest. I’ve had to go to several doctors before I even got diagnosed…I had to be sent to San Diego because they had no idea what was going on. They were like, ‘We don’t know what’s wrong with you. Go home.’ They kept giving me misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, and especially with being a plus-sized Mexican American, they were just like, ‘Oh, if you lose a couple of pounds, you’ll be fine.’”

Dr. Nicole Rochester shared information about one of the impacts of stress on health. According to Dr. Rochester, “…there’s a study specifically looking at prostate cancer by Dr. Burnham, a researcher, and what they found in this study is that they looked at prostate cancer cells from African American patients and white patients. And when they treated these cells with stress hormones, they saw that the Black patient’s prostate cells would begin to up-regulate the genes and the proteins that are known to make that cancer more resistant to therapy.”

 Dr. Rodell shared his opinion about the U.S. healthcare system and advice for patient advocates, “…if you’re not spending enough time with patients and you’re not communicating with other practitioners that are working with these patients, then you’re not going to have a very good idea of what’s going on in this patient’s life and what could be contributing to their illness. So, therefore, it’s incumbent upon the patient, we as individuals, to try to learn as much as we can and try to get our communities involved to help create educational programs to facilitate that education and that awareness.”

Some program participants provided valuable testimonials about the Rx for Community Wellness programs.

‘I will make more of an effort to get my team members to read information that has been shared on my tests and progress.” – 

“My hematologist is pretty responsive, but I don’t have a holistic doctor, and I’d like to get one. This program definitely raised my awareness of equity issues. Sasha was great explaining her issues. Thank you!”

“THANK YOU for the amazing panel you put together and the moderator (wow!) Perfect representatives from 4 angles/roles = complete and powerful picture/movie.”

How to Take Action for Community Wellness

Valuable advice has emerged from the Rx for Community Wellness program. Anyone with a desire to help can take action to improve care for underserved communities. Some recommended actions toward equitable care include:

  • Educate yourself as a patient to work toward better health and wellness. Take advantage of the Rx for Community Wellness resources to help yourself and others who may be struggling with their health.
  • Healthcare providers can read patient experiences to gain an understanding of their points of view and try to do more active listening to make their patients feel heard.
  • Take action to ensure you use wellness practices like exercise, healthy eating, and exercise to decrease stress levels and to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
  • Use the crowdsourced solutions in the Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource to learn patient and patient advocate suggestions for more equitable healthcare.
  • If you have an experience to share of when you experienced a health disparity, contact us at question@powerfulpatients.org and let us know what future topics you’d like us to cover.