Why does Fall Make Me Think of Patient Adherence?

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Well, it must be something in the air. I enjoy fall, but like most people, my enjoyment has a little bit of melancholy as well. Thousands and thousands of writers have described this much better than I ever could, but for me, along with the leaves turning, fall also delivers that sudden feeling of disappointment when you notice the sun is going down earlier. The days are shorter, the nights are colder and longer. Winter is on the way, and here in New England, that means something. The most ancient, mechanical process in the universe has the power to provoke strong, deep-seated, equally ancient feelings.

Professionally, the slow decay of fall reminds me that this is the consequence for many non-compliant people in our country today. If you've got a chronic condition, you're either moving forward medically or you're moving backwards. There are far too many patients out there moving backwards.

We all know them. Is it our father who forgets his lunchtime pill? Or the husband who refuses to take his blood pressure medicine. Or perhaps the mom who is too busy to put herself anywhere high enough on the list to take care of herself? These people are not strangers.

And yet, in this business there's a tendency to quantify this so far that it starts losing some of its meaning, or impact, or humanity. People say it is all about changing behavior.We have dozens of studies, hundreds of articles, blogs and analysis and on and on, but where in all this are the people? Why do they do this? What are their lives like? What do they think about? Or avoid thinking about?

Ultimately, helping to increase adherence means communicating with patients. We have got to use words, images, concepts they understand, scenarios that resonate. All the statistics in the world won't help us do the job until we can really put ourselves in the shoes of that busy mom, who is so rushed, so stressed and so consumed with caring for everyone else that she literally starts putting her own health on the line.

This kind of behavior is deeply irrational, but it's also deeply human. We need to understand it on a gut level in order to help stop it. That is why we are going to interview a few working family practice psychologists, Dr Anne McGee and Dr Eleanor Murdoch.These women work every day with the people who are our patients. They make their living understanding and working with the patients we are trying to reach.

Dr. Murdoch sits in her office, and hears the deepest, most profound thoughts and feelings of people who are struggling with some very big, eternal issues. We know what those issues are, but we don't know exactly how these people describe them, navigate them and live with them. By finding out, we hope to be able to field a deeper, more potent kind of insight to create, and field, deeper, more potent marketing, and to help our patients take better care of themselves.

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