A positive messenger

Doctor relies on teamwork with patients to set and achieve wellness goals

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Because hers is an outpatient practice, Dr. Wendy Osban says that she must do a little bit of everything. That means she sees patients of every age and condition, and so has worked to create a “can-do” atmosphere that encourages them to set healthy goals — and stick to them.

“We see teenagers, adults and seniors, so every day is different,” says Dr. Osban of her practice, a part of the Sacred Heart Medical Group. “We see people who are very sick and need to see a doctor right away, and then we follow up with other patients who are being treated for chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension. We also have patients who are with us for mental and emotional issues like anxiety and depression.”

Dr. Osban says that she often sees patients that suffer from obesity, but there’s more to it than just pointing out what may be a problem. It is being sensitive to the discussion and health issues that obesity can cause while educating the patient.

“I want to touch on it even if they’re in for something else, but do so in a positive way,” she says. “I don’t want to be offensive in any way. When I see from their records that weight may be an obstacle to them achieving their health goals, I want to talk through that with them. If they’re willing to acknowledge that, then I can start a conversation about what they’ve done in the past to change it. Often that’s a variety of things, and that uncovers some obstacles they may be facing that get in the way. Many people want to work on weight loss, but have a busy work schedule or kids at home and say they don’t have enough time.”

Partnering to find common-sense solutions

When that happens, she works with the patient on “little goals,” something like a 10-minute lunchtime walk, to help motivate that individual into a more robust wellness program. It’s there that she plugs in with MissionPoint Health Partners, so that her suggestions can be reinforced once the patient is back to their normal activities.

“There’s only so much I can do, and having someone who’s aware of the situation, and the obstacles, and can help guide that patient when they’re struggling is just invaluable,” Dr. Osban says. “I can’t follow them home, for example, but a Health Partner can make a home visit to see what the challenges are. Then we can all collaborate to overcome those.”

This approach ties into why she thinks of herself as a cheerleader for patients, and why she encourages preventive measures from mammograms and colon cancer screenings to regular immunizations.

“I’ll ask someone when and where was the last time you had a mammogram, and they’ll often not be sure,” she explains. “Then I can check the record, and it’s been quite a while. When we do that, often they’ll set up a date and take care of that. I ask about everything, from wearing seat belts to smoking, including how people are doing emotionally. It really gets me a variety of responses, and a lot of information to work with.”

And it’s at that point that she says she values the advice and expertise MissionPoint Health Partners bring to her practice and her patients. Health Partners, she says, give patients someone to talk to between office visits, and provide another voice of encouragement for patients who are taking steps toward improving their physical and emotional health.

“If I’m treating a diabetic person who is having trouble controlling their blood sugar, and I ask them to keep a sugar log and drop it off in a week, they often have trouble following through,” Dr. Osban says. “A Health Partner I’ve got someone who can go out to the patient’s home, and be very respectful in exploring any barriers that person may be experiencing. Then we can all work toward getting that medical condition under control. I couldn’t be that effective without a Health Partner; they provide such an invaluable service. They really help me provide a team approach, and it’s great.”

To see how Health Partners can work with your care provider, contact MissionPoint Health Partners at 1-855-288-6747 or email members@missionpointhealth.org.

MissionPoint Health Partners, soon to be called Ascension Care Management (ACM), is a subsidiary of Ascension.