das-gupta_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE – Medical experts are pointing to recent studies saying that more than 80 percent of diagnoses can be made based on patient history alone, and that further clues to a patient’s health can lie hidden in habits, hobbies, beliefs, job and insurance stresses, and family situations.  

More than 85 hospital executives from communities and cities across the U.S. convened May 1-3 at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale to learn about this concept and other emerging concepts in health care.

Organized by Boca Raton-based Spirit Health Networks, it was the ninth annual conference of HeartCaring, a national healthcare program focused on improving cardiovascular health in women while reducing unnecessary medical expenses.

Sayantani DasGupta, MD, MPH, a faculty member at Columbia University School of Medicine, is among those who say that patients should share their personal “story” with their physician, including longterm fears, daily stresses and family health history, which will help physicians better understand and relate to their patients.

The simple concepts are part of a burgeoning field called Narrative Medicine for which DasGupta is among the trailblazers.

The concept also encourages physicians to foster their own empathy and understanding of patients’ stories, by reading and interpreting characters in classic literature, as well as participating in art-museum tours and life-drawing classes.

“It’s refreshing to hear data and firsthand proof that by talking with patients and knowing their personal story, physicians can easily reduce unnecessary costly procedures while improving wellness,” said Tanya Abreu president and Chief Vision Officer for Spirit Health Networks, who led the conference.

The conference also addressed the benefits of de-stressing for medical professionals – and how it benefits not only the practitioners directly but also the patients.

Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., president and CEO of HeartMath Inc, discussed how by teaching medical staff to stay coherent and keep their stress levels low and hearts beating strongly in a chaotic setting, she teaches them to be stronger, better healthier practitioners. 

In addition to significant reductions in absenteeism and medical claims among practitioners, the benefits extend to patients – with HeartMath reporting a 40 to 71 percent reduction in medical errors at hospitals that instill the techniques they recommend.

H. Robert Superko, MD, FACC, FAHA, FAACVPR, a researcher at the forefront of scientifically validated personalized medicine, highlighted the importance of genetic tests to identify patients who are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

Highlighting the importance of a combined approach to care, Abreu referenced the new environment of health reform and wrapped up the program emphasizing the growing need to use a range of techniques that allow for better patient care. 

“As health professionals, our mission needs to be one of learning and listening, as using the most modern tools combined with intuition, empathy and understanding will allow patients to have the greatest successes.”