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A Culture of Respect

In a recent Washington Post article, reporter DeNeen Brown wrote about how Aretha Franklin’s classic song Respect took “a man’s demand for respect from a woman when he got home from work and flipped it.“

Everyone deserves respect. And yet, as we go through life, it’s easy to see that some groups need to fight more for it than other groups. Aretha sang, as a black woman, demanding respect, a message she belted out with gusto.

In my time working with older adults at Iora Health, it’s been very clear that older adults are another group that too often have to fight for respect. While some belt it out, many have resigned themselves to a life where they don’t feel respected and give up trying to get what they deserve.

At Iora, I’ve had the honor of speaking with countless older adults – patients and otherwise – to understand what’s important to them and learn how Iora and our care teams can help them live better lives. It’s surprising to me that more often than not, one of the most common answers I get when asking folks what’s important to them from their doctor is time. They want less time waiting for an appointment, less time in the waiting room and more time with their doctor and care team. A lot of doctors say they give their patients more than the average 7-15 minute appointment, but patients still aren’t satisfied. So are the patients not getting the time,  or is there something else going on?

I’m betting on both. At Iora, our teams spend more time with our patients than a typical doctor’s office – as much time as each patient needs. The extra time is key. But the real magic is what happens during that time. During the time our teams spend with patients, they are able to build meaningful relationships that engender trust and openness. Our patient relationships are built on this trust and, perhaps, more importantly respect.

One woman in one of our Arizona practices explained to me what she is looking for in a doctor’s office:

”I want them to listen to me. And not treat me like I’m… ‘she’s an old lady, she doesn’t know anything…because a lot of people I know have gone to the doctor and the doctor just blew them off…I want you to listen and be nice and don’t act bored. And if I’m wrong, explain to me why I’m wrong. And if I’m right, tell me I’m right. And I realize that not everybody is willing to listen ….”

I’ve encountered this theme over and over and over again in my conversations with older adults. While most people, no matter their age, would say that they want more time with their doctors, it turns out that isn’t enough. Most people under 65 don’t have to say that they are looking for someone to be nice, not act bored and explain things. People 65 and older shouldn’t have to either. Everyone deserves to be listened to and respected. I came to work at Iora – and stay here – because this is exactly what we do for all of our patients.