Doctors Harness the Power of Human Connections - Corwin N. Harper, MHA, FACHE
As a passionate advocate for healthcare, I find tremendous value in the concept of social medicine and social prescriptions, as outlined in an article I recently read from The New York Times titled Doctors Harness the Power of Human Connections by John Hanc. The story of Mary Albrecht, a former professor who had to retire due to Alzheimer’s disease, deeply resonates with me. It is disheartening to witness individuals like Mary experience increased isolation as their condition progresses. However, the introduction of cognitive stimulation therapy groups, such as the one at Saint Louis University’s Aging and Memory Clinic, offers a ray of hope.
“She’s not alone. “Like all human beings, people with dementia continue to need social interaction,””
I firmly believe in the power of social interaction for individuals with dementia and other health conditions. The cognitive-stimulation program developed by Professor Aimee Spector at University College London has demonstrated remarkable results, showing significant improvements in cognition and quality of life among patients engaged in group settings. This reinforces the importance of social prescribing, a concept gaining traction, particularly in the United Kingdom. By referring patients to link workers who can connect them with supportive community groups and services, we can provide the emotional and practical support necessary to combat loneliness.
“The program is an example of what may become part of the treatment for a wide range of issues: socialization, or, as it’s often being described, “a social prescription.””
The British National Health Service recognizes social prescribing as a vital component of their healthcare system, with a goal of referring nearly one million patients for social-prescription interventions by 2024. As someone passionate about healthcare, I am encouraged by this progressive approach. I firmly believe that integrating social prescribing into conventional medical practice can have transformative effects. By considering patients’ social and emotional needs alongside their medical conditions, we can adopt a more holistic approach to healthcare.
“Loneliness is a big issue for them. Any way we can develop connections can help.”
While the concept of social prescribing gains momentum in the United States, it is heartening to see Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy endorsing its potential to address loneliness and foster human connection. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of virtual group meetings as a means to bridge distances and bring individuals together.
“People recognize that it’s not that hard to log on to a virtual group meeting, and it can bring people together who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”
As I reflect on this article, I am inspired by the possibilities social prescribing holds. However, I recognize the need for continued research to develop reliable assessment methods and ensure seamless integration into medical practice. By doing so, we can fully unlock the benefits of social prescribing and create a healthcare system that addresses not only physical ailments but also the social and emotional well-being of patients. Ultimately, my passion for healthcare lies in embracing holistic approaches like social prescribing to improve the lives of those we serve.
Connect with Corwin on LinkedIn.
About Corwin: An empathetic and authentic leader who champions improving humanity through healthcare, Corwin Harper has contributed over 35 years of experience in various areas, from healthcare systems to fiduciary and governance to economic development. Corwin’s strengths include analyzing and assessing situations to create multi-year strategy plans, and he has the vision to identify new business opportunities where others fail to see the potential. Through his innovation as a transformational healthcare leader, he aims at creating a more human world with a strong focus on social and educational equity to improve humanity for all.
Corwin Harper - Champion, Strategist & Steward for Humanity
Champion, Strategist & Steward for Humanity - Corwin Harper
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