Family walking

June 6th is “What Matters to You?” Day

Inspired by the question posed in a 2012 New England Journal of Medicine article by Dr. Michael Barry and Susan Edgman-Levitan, ‘What Matters to You’ is a day for medical professions to build relationships with patients and staff by discovering what matters to them.

Barry and Edgman-Levitan introduced the concept of asking, “What matters to you?” in addition to “What is the matter?” in the context of implementing shared decision-making.Their ambition was to increase clinicians’ awareness of important issues in their patients’ lives that could drive customized plans of care.

Choose today to examine how you engage with patients and involve them in their care. You can incorporate their interests, future plans and values into their health goals and plans of care. One technique you can use is motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing is a way to communicate with your patients and elicit what matters to them so you are better able to help them make positive behavioral changes to support better health.

For some patients it may be appropriate to explore what their end-of-life wishes are. According to The Conversation Project’s 2018 National Survey: While 92 percent of Americans say it’s important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32 percent have had such a conversation. 95 percent of Americans say they would be willing to talk about their wishes and 53 percent even say they’d be relieved to discuss it.

One place to start is The Conversation Project’s Toolkit that covers how a patient can speak with loved ones and their doctors and document their wishes. Another toolkit is “What Matters” to Older Adults? from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), which can help your practice incorporate these conversations into the office visit and care planning.

The concept of “What Matters” can be applied to staff as well as patients. Addressing the motivations and frustrations of your staff can reduce burnout and increase staff engagement, patient experience, and productivity. The IHI Conversation Guide for Improving Joy in Work outlines how to hold effective, productive staff conversations to understand:

• What matters to you in daily work?
• How to build on assets: What helps make a good day? When we are at our best, what does that look like?
• What gets in the way of a good day?

On June 6th join the conversation on Twitter and share what matters to you, your team and your patients by using the hashtag #WMTY19.