Cecilia Rodriguez - Patients Should Be the Head of Their Health Care Team, Not the Doctor

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Apr 19, 2017
by Oscar Tollast and Nicole Bogart
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Cecilia Rodriguez - Patients Should Be the Head of Their Health Care Team, Not the Doctor

Social communicator with studies in public health discusses the importance of patients being heard by clinicians Cecilia Rodriguez attended Salzburg Global Seminar's session Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship

Cecilia Rodriguez, a social communicator with studies in public health, believes by improving the relationship between clinicians and patients, great improvements can be made in people's health. With that idea in mind, Rodriguez runs a patient-led organization in Chile for those with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic condition she was diagnosed with six years ago. Rodriguez attended Salzburg Global Seminar's session Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship to share her insights on the importance of having a good relationship between patient and clinician.

As a patient, Rodriguez says having a good relationship with the team of doctors, clinicians and medical practitioners who treat her condition has left a lasting impact on her health journey, describing a lack of patient-clinician relationship as a "world problem."

But Rodriguez notes it is important clinicians take the time to understand their patients, their needs, and concerns to foster trust between doctors and patients. "My story and my beliefs, my values, [and] what I want from life, it is important for me that my clinicians know and if they don't care about that, it can become a trust issue," she says. "If I feel like he's not giving me the whole picture, that can also make a trust issue. [I need] everybody on the team to be clearer, to give me all of the information, and listen to what I think, I believe, and my needs."

To help increase the level of trust in this relationship, Rodriguez argues patients should be the heard of their health care teams - not the doctor. "Once a doctor told me that I was a very collaborative patient and I was like, 'Sorry, doctor, but you are collaborating with me. It's my illness. I have lost so many things, when I got sick, at least let me keep my illness."

Though Rodriguez notes patients should not assume to know more than their doctors, she believes it is important for patients to have a vision of where they'd like to be in the health care journey. Allowing patients to see notes and treatment options laid out by clinicians, through a platform like OpenNotes, allows people to make informed decisions about whether they would like to follow that treatment path.

"Maybe someday I will say, 'You just tell me what to do.' Maybe that's my choice, and it's a good choice, but another day I want to make a decision, I want to think about it, and maybe I want to share it with my family or significant others and I want to get them involved, but all of those are decisions that, if I have the notes, I can make," she says.

Rodriguez says her involvement in the Salzburg Global session has presented a unique networking opportunity, opening her eyes to similar work people from other countries are doing. In her home country of Chile, she says there needs to be a bigger focus on what patients can give. "We are still on a very paternalistic model. I'm glad more people from my country came, and we're making great teamwork, so we can make more for my country." She hopes to return to Chile and incorporate some of the knowledge she obtained during the session.


Cecilia Rodriguez attended the Salzburg Global program Toward a Shared Culture of Health: Enriching and Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship. This program is part of the multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation in the 21st Century. The session was supported by OpenNotes. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburglobal.org/go/553.