The Humanwide Project: Improving the Patient-Provider Relationship

According to a story from Scope, Dr. Megan Mahoney has been spearheading a project with Stanford Medicine that aims to transform the dynamic between patients and their care providers. This endeavor is called Humanwide and is featured in the latest issue of Stanford Medicine magazine. Dr. Mahoney says that her interest in the patient-provider relationship can be traced all the way back to her childhood when she was eleven years old. That year, her sixteen year old sister had received a stunning diagnosis: multiple sclerosis.

About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease which is characterized by damage to the myelin sheath, a fatty, insulating, protective covering that surrounds nerve cells and allows them to communicate effectively. Although a precise cause has not been determined, multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease, in which a certain trigger, such as an infection, may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. Smoking and certain genetic variants are also considered risk factors for the disease. Symptoms include blurred vision, double vision, blindness in one eye, numbness, abnormal sensations, pain, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, difficulty speaking and swallowing, mood instability, depression, loss of coordination, and fatigue. There are a number of treatments available for the disease, but no cure. Life expectancy for patients is slightly reduced. To learn more about multiple sclerosis, click here.

Changing the Provider-Patient Relationship

Dr. Mahoney remembers how poorly coordinated her sister’s care was. The family didn’t have the knowledge to navigate the medical system as efficiently as they could have; the doctors were distant and detached, and her sister’s treatment suffered as a result. 

Humanwide, which included 50 patients and finished up last December, included wellness assessments, genetic screenings, and at-home monitoring tools to allow for a more thorough and comprehensive approach to patient care. It also involved patient and care provider seeing one another as allies and partners to be trusted. Mutual respect was critical and the preferences and stated goals of the patient were made the top priority. Humanwide aimed to use this approach to help predict future health problems and prevent them from appearing.

To learn more about this project, click here.


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