Metro Health – University of Michigan Health first launched cardiac rehabilitation in early 2016. Earlier this year, it became a comprehensive program with 5,000 square feet of space at Metro Health Village in Wyoming that houses exercise equipment and offers classes on diet, nutrition and healthy meal planning that follows the Pritikin program. The rehab program follows the move in health care toward helping people to change their lifestyle to prevent or better manage disease. Melissa Cook, cardiovascular rehabilitation coordinator at Metro Health, spoke with MiBiz about that movement and how the program fits with it.
How is the rehab program indicative of the direction health care is taking today?
Where health care is going today is more toward the preventative and wellness side of the way of life. We need to prevent patients from getting into the hospital. We need to cut costs down. We need to reduce readmission rates. This program is ultimately giving all of these patients those tools that they need so they can use them (outside of the hospital).
What can those tools enable patients to do?
One of the biggest things we see is that patients come in a lot of times to see their physicians (and they have) barriers of ‘I don’t know how to overcome that.’ We really teach them how to overcome those barriers in their daily life because we’re able to spend 90 minutes with them three days a week and really teach them and train them in the skills that they can take to their families and loved ones.
How does treating lifestyle contribute to improving patients’ conditions?
If you don’t educate patients, unfortunately they’re going to be right back at our doors. They need to think about what got them through the doors in the first place. What they need are the skills that they can do at home.
What’s the key: the medical care or motivating someone to change their lifestyle?
It’s both. From a medical standpoint, we want to make sure a patient’s heart is looking healthy and OK, but from a motivational standpoint as well, we’re equally doing that the entire time that they’re here. We know these patients’ medical histories, we know what they’ve gone through, (and) we know the providers and the physicians they’re working with. We’re able to communicate with their providers and we’re able to motivate the patients in the sense of, ‘This is what your provider told you, now let’s take it and put it into real life of what it looks like for you.’
How do you motivate a patient to change who doesn’t want to be motivated?
We actually have quite a few patients that are very hesitant, whether they are scared or whether they just don’t want to change. We always say, ‘Walk through our doors one time and let us show you what you can go through and the changes you can take on in your life.’ And a lot of times through them just seeing it and observing other patients, they end up buying into it and they end up changing.
Give our readers a success story.
One patient I’ll never forget was from two years ago when we opened up our program. I tend to be a little bit of a nudger. So I constantly called her and asked her to come in and she was very reluctant. ‘No, I don’t want to come in. I’m too scared. I don’t really want to do any of this. I’m fine with where I’m at.’ … I called her for an entire month for her to come in and she finally said OK. I used the phrase ‘just walk through our doors and give us one visit.’ She still comes back every single week to visit us, gives flowers to all of us. She hand writes birthday cards for all of the staff, and she says, ‘Thank you for nudging me. Thank you for keeping me accountable.’ That’s our ultimate goal.
What’s the biggest barrier you need to overcome to get people to take better care of their health?
The biggest barrier we really see is something that we can’t control in the sense of costs of copayment amounts for each patient. If we do have patients with that barrier, we will work with them or go through our foundation. It will help support the copayments that patient might not be able to afford, or we will take them through an accelerated program and teach them everything that we would teach them in three months, just in a shorter time span.
What’s next for the program?
Expansion, allowing more patients to come in here. Maybe doing more off-campus sites. So expanding it to other sites where we see patients to touch those communities and populations.